In Brief

French Open: Serena Williams sends big warning to rivals

Former world No.1 is into the third round after victory against Ashleigh Barty

Serena Williams admits she is not at the level she was before giving birth last September, but the 36-year-old believes she will return to top form and aims to get even better.

The American, who was described this week by Novak Djokovic as the “greatest female athlete of all time”, is playing her first Grand Slam tournament for 16 months at the French Open in Paris.

In her second-round match at Roland-Garros yesterday Williams “engineered an out-of-this world comeback” against Ashleigh Barty, according to CNN, to beat the Australian 17th seed 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Williams’ comeback victory in Paris not only sent out a warning to her rivals in women’s tennis but also proved she can still “crank up” her game when needed, says The Guardian.

The New York Times reports that the “Real Serena” has returned after “roaring back” to claim victory against Barty. NYT tennis reporter Christopher Clarey writes: “Serena Williams’s personal life and priorities have certainly changed in the past 16 months, but she was not going to bid adieu to the French Open without a fight.

“With the light fading, Williams had done what she has done so often on the show courts of the world: rallying - with a vengeance - to win.”

In her glittering career so far Williams has won 23 Grand Slam titles - one away from the record held by Australia’s Margaret Court.

With her return to tennis now at full speed, Williams sent a big statement to her rivals. She told the BBC: “I’m probably not where I was before I left. I’m definitely going to get there, but I also want to get beyond there.”

Quoted by Time magazine, Williams added that “every day is a great day for me”. Next up for Williams is a last-32 clash against German 11th seed Julia Goerges and she said: “I’m going to be here, fighting my heart out. It’s such a great feeling.”

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