Serena makes winning return to Indian Wells

Mar 13, 2015; Indian Wells, CA, USA;  Serena Williams (USA) during her match against Monica Niculescu (ROU) at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Williams won 7-5, 7-5. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) – Serena Williams again to Indian Wells on Friday after a 14-yr boycott due to racist abuse she suffered within the 2001 last and got her bid for a third BNP Paribas Open title off to a successful, though quite error-prone, begin.

On a sultry evening on the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in front of a sell-out crowd, the American world primary overcame a anxious start on the stadium courtroom to struggle earlier Romania’s Monica Niculescu 7-5 7-5 in the 2nd spherical.

Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, the seventh seed and a losing finalist at Indian Wells remaining yr, had a a lot easier time of it Previous in the day, storming into the 0.33 spherical with a 6-Three 6-1 demolition of yank Alison Riske.

Williams said she was overwhelmed by way of the reaction coming back to play on the venue and that Niculescu’s fashion had taken some getting used to.

“I’ve never performed somebody like her, and i used to be struggling to find my rhythm,” she mentioned in a courtside interview after being many times thwarted through an unorthodox opponent who used a closely sliced forehand. “It was a actually tough fit.”

Williams had skipped the showpiece adventure after winning her second title right here in 2001, beating Kim Clijsters in a last marred with the aid of some spectators who booed and heckled the American and her domestic.

The heckling used to be in obvious response to Serena’s sister Venus having withdrawn from their semi-last that year simply minutes ahead of the suit.

“It feels overwhelming, strolling out and having everybody right here cheering me,” she stated. “It Can Be been really worth it, coming again here.”

Williams, watched with the aid of her mom Oracene and sister Isha, was once broken in the opening recreation and trailed 0-2 earlier than gradually discovering her range.

She gained the subsequent three games but was once damaged once more within the seventh, then trailed Three-5 sooner than clawing her method back with a combination of energy serving and blistering ground strokes, helped by means of a few unforced errors by the Romanian.

Spurred on by means of shouts of “Come on Serena” and “Go Serena” from the group, the American gained 4 video games in a row to take a topsy-turvy opening set in an hour.

After trading early carrier breaks within the second, Williams at last sealed victory on her fourth fit level when her opponent netted a backhand, ending an encounter that lasted just over two hours.

Earlier in the day, Radwanska broke Riske twice within the opening set and three times within the second to triumph in just over an hour.

“I began very Smartly,” Radwanska said after hitting 15 winners on a scorching afternoon at Indian Wells.

“I Am in hassle the end of the primary set however I also finished very Well, so that’s the most important factor.”

The Polish world number eight will subsequent meet England’s Heather Watson, who beat Camila Giorgi of Italy 7-5 7-5.

In different suits, third seed Simona Halep of Romania fought back to beat Russian Daria Gavrilova 2-6 6-1 6-2, whereas eighth-seeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova breezed prior compatriot Elena Vesnina 6-Four 6-0.

(Enhancing with the aid of Gene Cherry/Peter Rutherford)

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