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Serena Williams shows plenty of promise despite loss to Jelena Ostapenko
31 December 2017, 01:40 | Rose Hansen
The American made it clear that she was not going to retire and felt there were still a few years left in the legs, but it seemed as though she might struggle to make it back in time for the Australia Open in January.
Four months after giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia and less than a month after returning to proper training, Williams took on world number seven Ostapenko in an exhibition clash in Abu Dhabi.
After the initial break, Ostapenko latched onto the weak serves of Williams, and several unforced errors helped, as she stormed back into the match to go 4-1 up with two breaks. "But as the match moved on, I was less afraid", explained Williams.
"I don't know if I am totally ready to come back on the Tour yet", she said.
Both players showed signs of rustiness early in the match, coughing up their serve in each of the opening games.
Williams, seen on social media, has been actively doing physical activities to keep her in shape, but would be racing against time to be fit for the 2018 Australian Open where she will attempt to defend her title.
Speaking in an on-court interview after the match, Williams said: "Motherhood's phenomenal. I look forward to seeing the fans in Abu Dhabi at the 10th Edition of the Championship very soon". This will be the first time that women have taken part in the event and it is a huge honour to be part of that history after watching the tournament for many years. But she was nowhere near her best in the first set before fighting back and winning the second.
However, she found more timing as the match progressed, increasing the speed on her serve and moving well inside the court. "I knew I was not going to fall over and break", said Williams.
There were still some uncharacteristic misses and questionable decision making but Williams' ambition for the new season was evident in her displays of frustration when she fell short of her own expectations. The more I played, the more confident I felt that I would be able to go for shots that I was afraid to go for in the first set.
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