Serena Williams did not have an easy time of it in her first-round match at the French Open against Kristyna Pliskova, but she emerged with a straight-sets victory on Tuesday and advanced to the second round.
Williams displayed plenty of the power and shotmaking ability that has defined her game, but her overall level was not as high as most opponents and fans have come to expect. Williams came through with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 victory over her opponent from the Czech Republic.
Early in the match, Pliskova seemed to be the more powerful player with the better serve, but Williams was able to gain her footing as the match progressed. She also seemed to figure out Pliskova's plan of attack and was able to gain greater control as the match progressed.
Williams fell behind 3-0 in the tiebreaker, but instead of letting the first set slip away, she picked up her game from that point and won seven of the next eight points to take the set.
Pliskova fought hard in the second half and seemed to have Williams in a vulnerable position, but the tall Czech player was unable to topple the three-time French Open champion.
Williams is unseeded in the French Open as she has only recently returned from maternity leave. The win over Pliskova was her first major match victory of the year.
Williams tried to downplay her competitiveness in this tournament, but she changed her tone midway through her explanation.
"I'm definitely here to compete and do the best that I can do, obviously. I'm not putting any pressure on myself as I normally do," Williams said, per ESPN's wire service. "... I think deep down, we all know the answer to that."
Williams will face Ashleigh Barty, the 17th seed, in the second round.
2018 French Open TV Schedule
Dates: May 30-June 10
TV: NBC, Tennis Channel
Replay: Tennis Channel, 10 p.m. ET
All Times ET
1st Four Rounds (May 30-June 4)
5 a.m.-3 p.m.
Quarterfinals (June 5 and 6)
7 a.m.-1 p.m.
June 7: Women's semifinals (8 a.m.-2 p.m.)
June 8: Men's semifinals (6 a.m.-2 p.m.)
Women's Final (June 9)
9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Men's Final (June 10)
9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Here's a link for Wednesday's match schedule in Paris.
Maria Sharapova was also victorious in her first-round match, as she needed three sets to defeat Richel Hogenkamp.
Sharapova earned a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory, but she nearly let the match slip away. She had a 4-3 lead in the second set and then lost six consecutive games.
Hogenkamp appeared to be in an excellent position with a 3-0 lead in the third set, but Sharapova regained her consistency and rebounded by winning the last six games.
On the men's side, fifth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro recorded a 1-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Nicolas Mahut.
The 6'6" Argentine was slow to get started, but once he found his rhythm, he kept Mahut at bay. If Del Potro can stay consistent with his serve, he is a threat to go deep into the tournament.
Second-seeded Alexander Zverev is back in action for his second-round match against Dusan Lajovic. Zverev, 21, defeated Ricardas Berankis 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in his first-round match.
Lajovic is unseeded, and he earned his second-round match with a straight-sets victory over Jiri Vesely.
American Sloane Stephens is seeded 10th, and she will face Magdalena Frech in her second-round match. Second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki will play her second-round match against Georgina Garcia Perez.