AUCKLAND, Jan 3, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 03rd Jan, 2017 ) - Serena Williams overcame rust and a troublesome wind to launch her comeback from a four-month lay-off with a 6-3, 6-4 win over 69th-ranked Pauline Parmentier at the Auckland Classic on Tuesday. In her first outing since she was shocked by Karolina Pliskova in the US Open semi-finals in September, the world number two made a sluggish start to a season in which she is seeking a record 23rd Grand Slam title.
In her first-round match, delayed from Monday when rain washed out play, Williams struggled initially as France's Parmentier broke the American's first service game. The 35-year-old, using Auckland to warm up for the Australian Open, only had a 48 percent success rate with her first serve and double-faulted four times as she had trouble adjusting to the swirling wind. But Williams -- who shares the Open-era record of 22 Grand Slams with Steffi Graf, and is two behind Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 -- grew steadily stronger and finished with her eighth ace.
"I definitely felt that rust, but mentally I knew how to get it back and get in there," Williams said, adding it "wasn't fun" playing in the wind. "Unfortunately I have the highest of goals and obviously that involves winning Grand Slams and that's all," said Williams, who last week announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. "It's basically all I want to do, but you have to win tournaments like this, or do well in them, to win Grand Slams, so these events really count.
" The third and fourth seeds, Caroline Wozniacki and Barbora Strycova, both cruised through their opening matches, with Wozniacki beating American Nicole Gibbs 6-1, 6-2 and Strycova a 6-4, 6-3 winner over fellow Croatian Barbora Stefkova. However, the rain again affected evening play with second seed Venus Williams also making a slow start as she was 2-2 in the first set against New Zealander Jade Lewis when play was stopped for the day. Fifth seed Kiki Bertens had reason to bemoan the unseasonal weather. She was 5-3 up against American Lauren Davis when play was abandoned on Monday, but could not find the same rhythm when play resumed and she lost 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.