Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Sporting a ‘Cat Suit,’ Serena wins first Grand Slam match since giving birth
By ADAM ZAGORIA
Sporting an all-black “Cat Suit,” Serena Williams made her return to Grand Slam tennis on Tuesday and scored a victory in her first match following the birth of her daughter in September.
Williams, the three-time French Open champ playing as an unseeded player, knocked off Kristýna Plíšková, 7-6(4), 6-4, to advance to the second round.
“You can’t beat a cat suit, right,” she joked to Jon Wertheim of Tennis Channel on court, adding that the suit was a message to “all the moms out there that had a tough pregnancy and had to come back and be fierce…That’s what this represents.”
Williams, who owns a flat in Paris, hadn’t played in a major since winning her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open over her older sister Venus. She remains one shy of Margaret Court’s all-time women’s mark of 24 majors and has made it clear that reaching — and surpassing — Court is her ultimate goal.
Venus lost in the first round in Paris, leaving Serena to hold the fort for the family.
Williams had not played a single competitive match on clay this season and was just 2-2 through four matches in 2018.
Still, Williams banged 13 aces but Pliskova served 15 herself.
“Today wasn’t easy, you know?” she said. “I think I’m going to tell [my daughter one day] that I had fun. I went out there and I thought about her. When I walked on the court, I texted to see how she’s doing. I was a little worried as moms always do, but she’s doing great.”
The 23-time Grand Slam champ hadn’t played since losing in the first round in Miami to Naomi Osaka in March.
“Of course, if I didn’t miss it, I wouldn’t be out here,” she said. “But I definitely missed it. IT’s such a pleasure after everything I went through to be able to come back and just step out on the court and winning is even more of a bonus.”
Williams is considered a long shot to win the French Open, but could be more of a threat later this summer at Wimbledon.
Roger Federer, winner of 20 career Grand Slam singles titles, earlier called Serena the greatest of all time.
“[Serena] is all the way up there,” Federer told the Wall Street Journal. “I’m probably up there with somebody, somehow. Maybe there’s a group, a best of five – and if you’re in that group, you should be pleased and happy. Tennis is a funky sport when it comes to that stuff.”
“I’m in full admiration of Serena,” he adds, “and Venus, too, by the way.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.