After she won the Australian Open in 2017, Serena signed one of her practice balls for "Nee Nee" and I mailed it out. She traveled to southern France in April with her daughter, Olympia, in tow to train at the academy operated by her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou.
It was the two-time French Open champion's first match on clay since 2016.
But she showed flashes of fine form in her straight-set but hardly straightforward victory over Pliskova, the unseeded and left-handed twin sister of Karolina Pliskova, the No. 6 seed here.
It was quite the showing for Williams in her return to Grand Slam tennis.
"But we talk always maybe about some players like I didn't know Barbora much".
The 36-year-old American hadn't competed at a Grand Slam tournament since the Australian Open in January 2017, when she earned her 23rd major championship while pregnant.
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We've got to do a little bit better, and it would be nice if they would help out a little bit, but it seems like they're not. They missed all 14 of their attempts in the third, with Ariza missing five while Harden and Gordon missed three apiece.
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The world No 6 booked her place in the second round with a 7-6, 6-4 win over Barbora Krejcikova earlier today, and admitted the sisters regularly share tactical advice and that Kristyna's clash with Williams would be no different. Williams, who gave birth to her first child back in September, is taking on No. 70 Kristyna Pliskova. She was given a tough challenge by Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp, but Sharapova eventually prevailed 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
"She played really well", said Williams after the match.
- Serena carves out first and only break point of the set but can not convert, sending the opener into a tiebreak.
There were 28 aces in total during the match, with 17 of those coming in the first set.
It was a trying but steady start for Williams, who faces a long road to a fourth title at Roland Garros. "After everything I went through to, to be able to come back and just step on court-winning is even more of a bonus".
French Open organizers stick rigidly to the WTA rankings, so would not seed Serena.