American Serena Williams made a successful return to Grand Slam tennis with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 win over Kristyna Pliskova at the French Open.
It was a tight contest between the two big servers with the 23-time major winner bouncing back from 3-0 down in the tie-break to take the first set.
There were five breaks of serve in the second set with Williams clinching the crucial fifth before serving out.
The 36-year-old will play Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in the next round.
There were 28 aces in total during the match, with 17 of those coming in the first set. Both the Czech world number 70 and Williams avoided errors early on and it seemed inevitable that the set would be decided on a tie-break.
Pliskova grabbed the mini-break and went into a 3-0 lead before the veteran hit back to win the next six and clinch the advantage.
The service game of both players dipped markedly in the second set, with points won on the first serve falling by an average of 27%.
However, it was Williams who made the fewer errors and claimed the most important break to take a 4-3 lead before she sealed victory in the 10th game.
“Kristyna played really, really well,” said Williams, who returned to tennis at Indian Wells in March, six months after giving birth to her first child. “I don’t know how many aces I saw during the match. I think there is a donation to charity for each ace, so both of us helped.”
It was the two-time French Open champion’s first match on clay since 2016. She added: “Two years is a long time but I’ve trained hard on this surface.
“I’m so glad to win a match here and I’m taking it one day at a time.” (BBC Sport)