It is not often that one finds all eyes on a single particular tennis match at an event as big as the “fifth slam” Indian Wells. However, that was certainly the case in Serena Williams’ emotional return to the tournament following a 14-year absence. Following her opening victory, she is through to the third round of the tournament, where she will face Zarina Diyas for the first time on the professional tour.
While it was a match that the top seed could have breezed through under any other circumstances, that was certainly not the case on Friday night at Indian Wells. The American struggled at several portions of her match against Monica Niculescu and but eventually managed to close out the encounter 7-5, 7-5.
“I feel really good. I feel like the nerves have kind of gone away. I feel better,” Williams said in her post-match press conference. “I was a little nervous. The weeks leading up to it, days leading up to it, and eventually the hours, it was a little nerve-wracking. But now I’m good that I was able to do this.
“It definitely feels like one of the biggest and proudest moments of my career.”
There was even a few tears following the match.
“At that moment I just felt so good to be out there. I felt like I made the right decision and I knew I wanted to do it – I knew I really wanted to do it. But up until that moment, I didn’t really know if it was the right thing to do.”
Now thorough to the third round, Williams will come up against Zarina Diyas, who defeated Donna Vekic in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, to set up the match.
This marks the first time that these two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour, and will certainly be another one of the matches that Williams should win, even if it is somewhat of a struggle. After putting her return match behind her, the rest of the tournament should be nothing more than business as usual.
Prediction: Serena Williams in Straight Sets