Abu Dhabi, UAE: A slow moving Serena Williams made an encouraging return to tennis after maternity leave, taking a set off the French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in an exhibition match Saturday, but said she has not made up her mind about defending the Australian Open title.
In a match featuring a super tie-break and lasting one hour and seven minutes, Ostapenko won 6-2, 3-6, 10-5.
The 36-year-old American, winner of 23 Grand Slam single titles, was making a comeback after taking nearly 11 months off to have her first child.
Her last match was the Australian Open final, which she won despite being two-month pregnant.
"It was good to be back out there. I missed playing, I missed competition, I missed the crowd, the atmosphere so much. It was really nice to be back," said Williams after the match.
"I don't know if I am totally ready to come back on the Tour yet. I know that when I come back I definitely want to be competing for championships," she said, refusing to commit yet to the Australian Open, which starts in a little over two weeks.
"I don't know, but I am definitely looking forward to getting back out there.
"I am taking it one day at a time. I am going to assess everything with Patrick (Mouratoglou, her coach) and my team," she said.
It was the first time Ostapenko had played against Williams, whom she described as her "childhood idol".
The 20-year-old Latvian was born almost two years after Williams turned professional in September 1995.
Williams was clearly having problems with her serve and was broken five times in the 17 games.
She also stuck mostly to the baseline and only twice charged the net.