Serena Williams is back in the third round at the French Open.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion beat 174th-ranked Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3 5-7 6-1.
Her serving, especially at the outset, was much better than in her first-round win. In that match, she only put 51 per cent of first serves in play and got broken three times in 10 games.
“I’ve been practicing my serve a lot. I’ve been playing, in practice, unbelievable on my serve. The other night was, ‘Wooooow’,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“I’m glad it came better today. My coach told me it’s good that I’m doing it well in practice, because eventually it will be good in the match.”
It sure was, especially at the outset against Buzarnescu, who didn’t manage to put any serves in play in the first game.
By the end of the first set, Williams had won 20 of 23 points she served.
In the second set, things changed.
Buzarnescu made the measure of those powerful offerings and managed to get herself right back in the thick of things, breaking twice in a row.
“She’s one of the best servers in the world. It’s not easy to read her serve. Being the first time playing against her, it took a while for me to adjust my position in the court on the return,” said Buzarnescu, who called it “a dream” to be able to face Williams. “I’m just happy I was able to figure it out. I hope next time, I can do it earlier.”
After a bit of a reset, Williams got going back in the right direction.
“I knew going into the third, I just had to zero in on those important points,” she said. “If I could just take those, it would be an easier time for me.”
At last year’s tournament, which was moved to a September start because of the pandemic, Williams retired prior to her second-round match due to an Achilles injury.
Williams has won the French Open three times — in 2002, 2013 and 2015.
Williams next faces fellow American Danielle Collins, who overwhelmed Anhelina Kalinina 6-0 6-2 in 62 minutes.
Collins reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros last year.