Serena Williams claimed her first win in more than a year on Monday, beating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-3, 6-4 at the Women’s National Bank Open.
It was only the second tournament of the season for the 40-year-old Williams, who returned to Wimbledon just over a month ago. The 23-time Grand Slam champion lost in the first round to Harmony Tan in three sets at the All England Club.
Before that, she last competed at Wimbledon 2021, where she missed the first half of the match due to a torn hamstring after slipping on the grass.
Williams’ first win since the French Open in 2021 left her facing either Belinda Bencic or Tereza Martincova.
Williams started strong, going through the first two games with relative ease.
Parrizas-Diaz equalized 2-2, but despite Williams’ attempts at certain points, the 31-year-old Spaniard could not find enough steady flow to take the lead. Williams found her rhythm, mixing a solid feel with her signature power and delivering the shot after the shot was out of reach for Parrizas-Diaz.
Williams’ effort sent cheers from the fans on their feet and some even bowed in defeat.
Williams won the last three games to take the first set, then took the lead in the second after Parrizas-Diaz, who placed 57th, took a 4-3 lead. She endured a nine-deuce game to hold serve and even the set, then broke in the next game before serving winning.