New York - Venus Williams gave a scouting report on her warm-up
partner that sounded the same as always.
Serena Williams is back, and her game hasn't left.
"She's got power, depth. She knows how to play,"
Venus said. "Yeah, awesome game."
The Williams sisters were the headliners Monday night in the
Tie Break Tens tournament in Madison Square Garden, an eight-woman event in
which all matches were 10-point tiebreakers, instead of the usual games and
Serena was playing her first singles match of the year as
she prepares to return to the WTA Tour for the first time since giving birth to
her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., on Sept. 1. The 23-time Grand Slam
singles champion would later tell Vogue Magazine in an interview that she
developed several small blood clots in her lungs after giving birth.
She had played just once this year, losing a Fed Cup doubles
match with Venus last month, and hasn't played a singles match on tour since
winning the 2017 Australian Open, where she beat Venus in the final.
Serena returns this week in Indian Wells, California, and
her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, told WTATennis.com he had high expectations for
the three remaining Grand Slam tournaments this season. He said he sees the
same determination in practice, but wouldn't know if being a mother had changed
her until he saw her competing.
Venus already knows what to expect.
"I mean, the matches are definitely a good way to know
where you are, but obviously she knows how to play," the 37-year-old Venus
said. "She's going to bring that instinct on the court with her, so I
don't think she's too worried about that."
Tie Break Tens held its first tournament in the US after
five events in Europe and Australia. The remainder of the field included Elina
Svitolina of the Ukraine, the highest-ranked player at No 4; American CoCo
Vandeweghe; China's Zhang Shuai; Sorana Cirstea of Romania; Marion Bartoli of
France, the 2013 Wimbledon champion who is ending a 4 ½-year retirement; and
Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, who retired last year.
Vandeweghe, a New York native, jumped at the chance to play
at MSG. Her grandfather, Ernie, and uncle Kiki, now an NBA executive, both
played for the New York Knicks.
"I didn't have to think too long," he said.
"Once I was asked by my coach, Pat (Cash), if I was going to be available
around that time, I said, 'Yeah, I'll make myself available.' So it didn't take
She was on the US team in last month's victory over the
Netherlands in North Carolina and enjoys seeing both Williams sisters still
playing well. Venus reached two Grand Slam finals in 2017 and returned to the
top five of the rankings.
She competed Monday night just a few days after the 20th
anniversary of her first WTA Tour title in Oklahoma City as a 17-year-old. Many
players have taken up the sport in years since because of the Williams sisters,
and Venus hoped more might be interested in this format since they were.
"If that's the result, yeah, that would be great,"
she said. "I hope that is the result, that this is a lot of excitement and
more people start playing. It's a great sport. The sport is great for everyone
of all ages."