It wasn’t Wimbledon or the French Open, but winning the Bank of the West Classic on Sunday was a positive start to Serena Williams’ comeback.
When Williams raised her arms in victory after defeating Marion Bartoli 7-5, 6-1 in the finals it was a familiar celebration but one that hadn’t been seen from Williams in over a year after an injury and blood clots in her lungs sidelined her for an extended period.
So obviously the win—even on a smaller stage—was emotional for the 13-time major champion and former No.1 player in the world.
“Coming back and hearing the claps when I walk out there are moments that I truly missed,” Williams said to the Associated Press. “It’s so awesome to be back and to be a part of those moments. Not everyone can be a sports, I don’t know if `star’ sounds full of myself, but I’ve worked hard for that title.
“So, yes, I say it and I take pride in it.”
It has been a long battle back for Williams, who began competing again for the first time in June. She had not won a tournament since the 2010 Wimbledon where she suffered the injury that led to the health problems.
Williams entered the Bank of the West Classic unseeded and ranked 169th after playing in just a couple tournaments since her return. Williams is expected to break into the top 80 after Sunday’s win, which helps set the stage with the U.S. Open coming up at the end of the month.
(Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)