French Open review: Serena Williams returns to grand slam tennis with a win

Serena Williams at the French Open
Serena Williams at the French Open

Serena Williams returned to grand slam tennis in style with a sparkling victory over Kristyna Pliskova in the French Open first round.

The former world number one had not played a major tournament since winning a 23rd title at the 2017 Australian Open, having given birth to her daughter in September.

Her first grand slam action in over 15 months had the Paris fashionistas in a whirl as she walked on court in a black bodysuit with a bright pink belt.

Williams may be short of match sharpness and the footwork is not quite there yet, but the 36-year-old's serve remains a formidable weapon as she took the first set after a tie-break.

The pair exchanged breaks in the second set, with Williams grabbing the decisive one in the seventh game before sealing a 7-6 (7/4) 6-4 victory - not bad going for her first match on clay in two years.

"Two years is a really long time but I have trained hard on clay and feel good," she said courtside afterwards.

"I'm happy to have won a match here and I'm just taking it one day at a time."

Maria Sharapova lost six games in a row and then won the next six as she got her return to Roland Garros off to a successful start.

The Russian appeared to be cruising at 6-1 3-1 ahead but Holland's Richel Hogenkamp suddenly had her on the ropes, taking the second set and racing 3-0 ahead in the decider.

But Sharapova rediscovered her game in the nick of time to reel off half a dozen games for a 6-1 4-6 6-3 victory.

It was an ultimately sweet moment for the two-time Paris champion.

This time last year Sharapova had recently returned from a 15-month doping ban, but had not built her ranking high enough to qualify and was not offered a wild card.

But 12 months later Sharapova is back in the world's top 30, seeded 28 at Roland Garros and a potential challenger for a third title.

"I think if there is any way to turn that match around, it's that way," she said.

"It's great to be in this draw and great to be back on a court that I have had great success at."

Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza got the better of Svetlana Kuznetsova in a first-round meeting of two former champions.

After a 90-minute rain interruption at 5-5 in the first set Muguruza, the 2016 winner, blew 2009 champion Kuznetsova away in the tie-break and went on to win 7-6 (7/0) 6-2.

Caroline Garcia of France, the seventh seed, took just 58 minutes to dispatch China's Yingying Duan 6-1 6-0.

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