Serena Williams earned her first victory of the season Monday at the women’s National Bank Open, defeating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-3, 6-4.
It’s just the second tournament of the season for Williams, who made her return to competition at Wimbledon just over a month ago.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion fell in the first round to Harmony Tan in three sets at the All England Club.
Before then, she last competed at the 2021 Wimbledon tournament, where she retired in the middle of her first match due to a torn hamstring suffered after slipping on the grass surface.
Williams will next play the winner between Belinda Bencic and Tereza Martincova.
Serena Williams, not looking even remotely match fit, survives against a nobody qualifier in the first round in Toronto. Can’t imagine she can beat an opponent of quality, but her mere presence illustrates the massive hole she will leave in the women’s game when she retires.
The 40-year-old Williams started out strong, taking the first two games with relative ease.
Parrizas-Diaz tied it 2-2, but despite Williams’ struggles at certain points, the 31-year-old Spaniard couldn’t find enough of a consistent flow to get ahead.
Tied 3-3, it was Williams who found her rhythm, mixing solid touch with her signature power and putting shot after shot out of Parrizas-Diaz’s reach.
Up 5-3, Williams had trouble landing set point, with the 57th-ranked Parrizas-Diaz fighting to send the game back to deuce.
But Parrizas-Diaz had trouble with Williams’ serve, as the American scored on three of her four aces within that span. The last of them caused Parrizas-Diaz to hit a high arching shot that allowed Williams to fire one the opposite way, well out of her reach, to win the set 6-3.
In the second set, Parrizas-Diaz opened things up, taking the first game and then going up 2-1.
Williams then turned up the intensity level.
After taking away the Spaniard’s advantage, Williams pulled out all the stops showing flashes of her old self, taking the advantage with a mix of touch shots and powerful forehands in a lengthy exchange, later tying it at 2-2.
Williams’ effort had the fans on their feet roaring, and some even bowing.
After the players traded game wins for a time, Williams broke that run when she turned a 4-3 deficit to a 5-4 lead, continuously finding ways to rally when behind.
Williams cruised to a win the final game to take deciding set 6-4.