INDIAN WELLS – Serena Williams moved into a third-round match on Saturday against her sister Venus at the Indian Wells Masters and revealed the problems she was facing in combining parenthood and her tennis career.
The unseeded former world No 1 is playing her first Tour event in more than a year, since winning the 2017 Australian Open and then taking time off to give birth in September.
Williams has made a solid start to her return but admits she is facing tough choices.
One major problem: how much time to devote to the game she once dominated while trying to raise her new daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
“I have a really light schedule already. So obviously I want to work on getting my ranking to where I can just feel good about it,” Williams, who is currently un-ranked, said.
“But I don’t know how much lighter I can go. I don’t really play a lot. I just usually play tournaments and I try to do really good in those tournaments so I don’t have to play every week.”
Prior to stepping away after Australia last season, Williams played eight WTA events in 2016, down from 11 in 2015 and 15 the year previous.
“It’s different travelling with a kid. I definitely want to spend as much time as I can with her. My priorities are different,” the 36-year-old said.
Williams said she was becoming accustomed to being away from her infant daughter of six months for hours at a time.
“Today I left pretty early, left like around 11am. It’s 6pm, and I haven’t come close to tears today, so that’s good. I definitely miss her, all I can think about is wanting to get back as fast as I can.”
No matter her parental status, the newly married player still maintains her competitive spirit.
“I have a lot of goals. I don’t usually talk about them, though. I definitely have some set and some targets in my mind that I want to reach - it will be fun to reach those.
“I love competing, I love going out there and doing what I think I do best, and I think that’s what I missed most - competing.”
Williams showed some creaky play at times in beating Kiki Bertens 7-6 (7-5), 7-5, missing a chance to serve it out on her first chance and coming from two break points down on her second to finally secure the win in 1 hour, 52 minutes.
“I’m getting there but I have a long way to go,” Williams said. “It definitely felt better than the first round. I’m still a little rusty. I’m still making errors that I don’t normally make.
“But I call this a trial run, like a trial run of travelling with the baby; all of this is just so new to me.”