INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Playing in her first match since the 2017 Australian Open, Serena Williams shook off the rust and returned to her winning ways in commanding fashion, taking down World No.53 Zarina Diyas in straight sets.

With the Indian Wells Center Court packed to the rafters, Serena needed just over an hour and 33 minutes to notch her first win as a mom, 7-5, 6-3.

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“It was incredible,” Serena said after the match, beaming in her on-court interview. “It’s been over a year and a kid later - and I get to go home now to her!

“It definitely wasn’t easy. I’ve played [Diyas] several times before and we always have a couple of tight sets. I’m a little rusty, but it doesn’t matter. I’m just out here on this journey doing the best I can.”

Serena showed a champion’s intent from the very first game - she shook off a few loose errors and immediately brought up a break chance on Diyas’ serve.

Her own powerful serve was firing, too. She didn’t face a single break point during the first set; in fact, she struck an ace in her very first service game, which she then held to love in commanding fashion.

The pair stayed toe-to-toe for the next few games, with Serena keeping Diyas under pressure on serve, stepping in and teeing off the Kazakh’s weaker second serve. She created five break chances during the opening set before finally breaking through on her sixth at 6-5 to avoid a tiebreaker, and went on to serve it out comfortably.

Diyas refused to wilt away in the back-and-forth exchanges that followed in the rollercoaster second serve. Serena twice broke the Diyas serve and threatened to run away with the set, but Diyas broke straight back each time to stay in it. She couldn’t fend off Serena a third time, and the former World No.1 reeled off the last three games in a row to seal her first victory in 14 months.

“I surprised myself with some of the errors,” Serena admitted in her post-match press conference. “But right now, for this particular tournament, I’m really just trying to take it easy and not put too much stress or pressure or expectation on myself. And this is really one of the few times when I’ve been able to do that.

She added, “I went in knowing I’m not going to be where I want to be in the first few matches. It takes time to get back.”

Up next in round two, Serena will face No.29 seed Kiki Bertens in her next match. A two-time champion here, Serena is also bidding to become the first player ever to lift the Indian Wells trophy three times.