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Serena wins first match back after lay-off

Associated Press
Jan 03, 2012 at 03:32am IST

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Brisbane: After winning the first match she's played since her US Open final defeat last September, Serena Williams admitted she's dreading another season of grueling workouts but still can't live without tennis.

The 30-year-old Williams had her service broken in the opening game on Monday before beating Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa 6-2, 6-3 at the Brisbane International. She needed just 68 minutes to advance, firing seven aces and taking advantage of eight double-faults by Scheepers.

She was asked after the match whether her four-month lay-off indicated she may have fallen out of love with tennis.

Serena wins first match back after lay-off

Williams beat Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa 6-2, 6-3 at the Brisbane International.

"It's not that I've fallen out of love ... I've never really liked sports, I never understood how I became an athlete," Williams said.

She added, laughing, that she's never liked working out and "I don't want anything that has to do with working physically."

"If it involves sitting down or shopping I am excellent at that. I don't love tennis today ... but I can't live without it so I am still here."

Williams has said previously that she plans to cut down on her schedule in 2012.

"I just want to be able to do other things I am doing and expand on that," she said on Monday. "I think that will help keep my motivation up. I have always been preparing myself for life after tennis."

Not that the 13-time Grand Slam winner is planning on retiring any time soon. She'll play young Serbian Bojana Jovanovski in the second round in her only warm-up tournament before the January 16 start of the Australian Open, a Major she has won five times.

In other matches on Monday, top-seeded Samantha Stosur of Australia, who beat Williams for the US Open title, advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus and sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia defeated Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-4, 6-2.

Former No. 1-ranked Ana Ivanovic beat Tamira Paszek of Austria 6-3, 6-3 and American qualifier Vania King defeated Melinda Czink of Hungary 6-3, 6-4.

Ivanovic will play Australian Open defending champion Kim Clijsters in the second round, one of the toughest rivals either player has faced so early in a tournament.

The last time the two players met, former French Open champion Ivanovic blew five match points at Miami last March. Ivanovic had three break points when leading 5-1 in the deciding set before Clijsters came back to win 7-6 (4), 3-6, 7-6 (5) and improve her career record with Ivanovic to 4-0.

"Last time it was a hard one for me," Ivanovic said on Monday. "It would be nice to convert a match point. I will go out there and test myself, push and see how far away I am from the top players."

Top-seeded Andy Murray plays his opening men's match on Tuesday. Second-seeded Gilles Simon of France advanced with a 6-3, 6-4 win over American Ryan Sweeting on Monday.

Denis Istoman of Uzbekistan also went through to the second round when Florian Mayer of Germany retired with a groin injury while trailing 7-6 (5), 2-3. Eighth-seeded Bernard Tomic of Australia beat Julien Benneteau of France 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

Tomic was down a break in the deciding set and needed six match points before closing out his win over Benneteau.

"To get back from a situation like that is good," Tomic said. "It's all experience ... I know what to do in situations like this in three-setters."

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