May 27, 2019
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Serena Williams marks her return to Rome with win over Peterson

Rome, May 13 (EFE).- Four-time tennis champion Serena Williams kicked off her return to the 2019 Italian Open, where she has not played since 2016, with a solid straight-set win against Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson.

It took the 37-year-old one hour and 15 minutes to prevail over Peterson 6-4, 6-2, in the first-round encounter.

It is the first appearance for the 23-year-old Swedish in the main draw of the Rome-based tournament, after she had taken part in the qualification round in two previous occasions.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion saw her serve broken in the fourth game to trail 3-1 in the first set before she staged a comeback to claim a 6-4 win.

In the second set, Williams, 1st ranked, did not give Peterson any chance, stamping her authority on the play to seal it with a 6-2 victory.

The American player, who won the trophy at Rome in 2002, 2013, 2014 and 2016, could not participate in the last two editions of the tournament, but she marked a good debut of her return to Italy this year.

But Serena’s bid for a fifth crown in Rome is dependant on a second-round encounter against the winner of a clash pitting her elder sister, Venus Williams, world No.50, against the 20th-ranked Elise Mertens of Belgium.

If Serena manages to qualify for the third round, she might face off against another American star, Sloane Stephens, world No.8, who will take on the 42nd-ranked Johanna Konta in their second-round duel on Tuesday.

Konta beat Alison Riske of the United States 6-4, 6-1 in their first round match at the clay-court event.

In other Italian Open action on Monday, Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza made it to the second round at the expense of Zheng Saisai of China 6-3, 6-4, setting a date with either world No.12 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, a former world No.1, or the United States’ Danielle Collins, world No.30.

Slovak Dominika Cibulkova defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-2, 6-3, and will square off against world No.1 Naomi Osaka of Japan.

Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic edged China’s Qiang Wang with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 win. EFE

am/mn/rb

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