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Serena Williams on 1st Win Since 2021 French Open: 'I Forgot What It Felt Like'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 8, 2022

Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Serena Williams is arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, but before Monday she hadn't won a match since the 2021 French Open because of injuries.

She got back to her winning ways at the National Bank Open, however, beating Nuria Parrizas Diaz 6-3, 6-4 in opening round play.

"It's just one win, you know, it takes a lot. But I was happy, like I said, to have a win," Williams told reporters after the match. "It's been a very long time. I forgot what it felt like."

Williams last played at Wimbledon in June, losing her only match at the All-England Club to Harmony Tan.

"Mentally I feel I'm getting there. I'm not where I normally am and I'm not where I want to be," Williams said Monday. "Physically I feel much better in practice, it's just like getting that to the court. But literally I'm the kind of person who it just takes one or two things and then it clicks. So I'm just waiting on that to click."

The 40-year-old has dominated the women's game for the past two decades, winning 23 Grand Slam titles, just one behind Margaret Court's record-setting 24. When Williams won the Australian Open in 2017, her last Grand Slam conquest, it seemed a foregone conclusion that she would not only surpass Court, but shatter that mark.

But a combination of injuries and health issues, a natural decline that comes with age and a pregnancy hiatus kept her regularly on and off the court in the years to follow.

When asked about how much longer she would continue to play, Williams remained cagey.

"I guess there's just a light at the end of the tunnel," she told reporters, laughing. "I don't know, I'm getting closer to the light, so... Lately that's been it for me. I can't wait to get to that light."

"Freedom," she continued when asked what the light she referenced represented. "I love playing though, so it's like amazing. But, you know, I can't do this forever. So it's just like sometimes you just want to try your best to enjoy the moments and do the best that you can."

Perhaps Williams still has Court in her sights. For now, picking up a win after a long drought is a start.

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