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Posted at 08:38 AM ET, 06/21/2011

Wimbledon 2011: Serena Williams wins in three sets in emotional return to Centre Court


Serena Williams in her first-round match against Aravane Rezai. (Julian Finney / GETTY IMAGES)

9:46 a.m. (EDT)

Although her energy flagged a bit as she dropped the second set, Serena Williams played a focused and determined third set, beating Aravane Rezai, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, in an emotional return to Wimbledon.

Williams, going for her third straight Wimbledon title, was in tears after the match, which marked her return to major tournament play for the first time in 11 months and was surprised at how emotional she was.

“I usually don’t cry, so I don’t understand it,” Williams said in a BBC interview. “It’s just been so hard. I never dreamed that I’d be here. And to win ... It was a really big win for me.”

Since she won Wimbledon last July, Williams has had two surgeries on her foot and had blood clots on her lung. “It’s been so hard and it’s just been a disaster year, but I’ve been praying and I have my family and I love tennis,” Williams said. “To be able to come back at Wimbledon is pretty awesome. I didn’t expect to play and I didn’t expect to even do anything, so I’m just excited. I never cry with joy at anything.”

9:12 a.m. (EDT)

Serena Williams drops the second set to Aravane Rezai, 3-6, and is struggling a bit with her breathing on rallies.

Williams is in great shape, but she was breathing hard as Rezai forced her to run around the court — no surprise given that Williams had blood clots on her lung earlier this yer.

8:48 a.m. (EDT)

Serena Williams wins the first set against Aravane Rezai, 6-3.

8:33 a.m. (EDT)

Serena Williams is back on the court at Wimbledon today, and, in her first Grand Slam match in a year, initially looked a a little rusty against Aravane Rezai.

She got her bearings fairly quickly, though, and leads 5-2 in the first set.

Williams had not, until the Eastbourne Wimbledon warmup, played since winning last year’s Wimbledon. She cut her foot shortly after that win, which triggered a cascade of health problems that ended with life-threatening blood clots in her lung.

Williams is playing with a bandage or patch on her back, which no doubt will receive a lot of attention from the media, win or lose, after the match.

Because you want to know these things and the Williams sisters are all about fashion — especially after Venus Williams wore something inspired by both “Star Trek” and the puffy shirt, here’s what Nike said about Serena’s dress today:

“The Smash Lawn Dress that Serena Williams will be wearing at Wimbledon this year is made with Dri-FIT material with a deep v at the front and back with micro-hole mesh inset panels. Contrast piping details and an empire waist with bust darts provide a flattering fit. A built in bra.”

The women’s top seed, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, beat Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain 6-2, 6-1. First upset of the day? Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain beat No. 15 seed Jelena Jankovic, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

Today, there will be 95 matches, thanks to rain Monday afternoon.

MORE

Wimbledon: Schedule, scores

Gallery: A sedate second day

Nadal rolls: A straight-sets win for Raffy

Handicapping the field: Players to watch

By  |  08:38 AM ET, 06/21/2011

 
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