Manila, Philippines — It’s been quite a year for Serena Williams. Between winning 3 consecutive Grand Slams, to just falling short of winning all the Slams in a calendar-year, 2015 was the best of times and then the worst of times for the world number 1.
“It’s no secret I’ve played injured most of the year,” said Williams in a statement prior to her withdrawal from the WTA’s last two tournaments earlier in October. “Whether it was my elbow, my knee, or, in the final moments after a certain match in Flushing, my heart,” according to Williams, for most of the year she wasn’t at her one-hundred percent.
But on Sunday, despite looking a tad bit rusty on-court, the 34-year old American showed her adoptive home crowd that there’s a lot of tennis left in her this season, especially for the first day of the Manila leg of the International Premiere Tennis League (IPTL) at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
In Mixed Doubles action, she paired with Philippine Mavericks teammate Fil-American Treat Huey to go against the UAE Royals’ Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic, and in Women’s Singles she played former world no. 1 and familiar foe Ana Ivanovic.
Williams/Huey traded plenty of cross-court backhands and straight-line passes with Nestor/Mladenovic, but were edged in sudden death, 6-5, by the 2013 Wimbledon-winning pairing.
Against Ivanovic, Williams looked more dominant. She broke the Ivanovic serve early and moved to solidify her lead in the seventh game at 4-2 before a timely Coca-Cola Power Point by the Royals closed in on the gap to make it 4-3.
There was no comeback in the works for Ivanovic, however, as Williams pulled away to seal the set at 6-3; Williams’ efforts enough to ensure the Philippine Mavericks would win the match-up even prior to the last set Men’s Doubles set.
At the post-match press conference, Williams said on her storied 2015 season: “I don’t lack motivation [but] I just needed to take some time off and heal, to be able to walk without pain.”
“And since season ended earlier this year, I thought it was great to come here and get some good match practice,” she added.
In all, it was a strong start for the Philippine Mavericks against the UAE Royals. Mark Philippousis, Milos Raonic, and the men’s doubles pairing of Richard Gasquet and Roger-Vasselin all delivered for the home squad to rout the Royals, 29-18.
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