MELBOURNE, Australia – Serena Williams shrugged off a knee problem and four-month break from match play as she posted a 6-4, 7-5 win over Italian Camila Giorgi on Monday to mark her start at the Australian Open.
Williams, the top seed, had not played an official match since September, when her season was cut short after losing a U.S. Open semifinal. She came to Melbourne still nursing an injury.
The world No. 1 was unable to complete more than one set at the Hopman Cup in Perth earlier this month and had looked in some doubt for a start at the Australian Open.
Williams put the doubts to rest with her win, which included a second set that took an hour, with the 34-year-old broken at 5-4 while serving for victory. She broke Giorgi for 6-5 before closing out the win as she began her 16th visit to Melbourne Park.
"I'm able to stay in it and stay calm," Williams said. "I'm happy to be back out there. I still get butterflies and nerves. That means I really want it."
"This match was not easy. She plays really well and knows how to hit her shots. I've not played a competitive match in a long time," she added.
Other first-round matches
• Men's No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic defeated Chung Hyeon of South Korea 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Sixth-seeded Thomas Berdych defeated Yuki Bhambri 7-5, 6-1, 6-2. It's his 50th consecutive major tournament.
• American Sloane Stephens, the 24th seed, lost to Chinese qualifier Wang Qiang 6-3, 6-3. Stephens was up 3-1 in the first set before she lost 10 games in a row.