(CNN)Serena Williams began her search for her record-equaling 24th Grand Slam with a challenging win over fellow American Kristie Ahn in the first round of the French Open.
The 39-year-old trailed twice by a break in the opening set, eventually winning in a tie break before decisively sweeping aside 28-year-old Ahn. It took Williams one hour and 41 minutes to eventually surpass Ahn 7-6 (7-3), 6-0 and advance to the second round at Roland Garros.
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Williams plays a forehand against Ahn. “It’s really nice to be here, it’s different,” the No.6 seed said afterwards. “There are not so many people but it’s nice to have a few people and in the last few tournaments there was nobody so it’s nice.Read More”In the first set it was not easy and I played very well, I made a lot of winners. I had to concentrate to win and stay very focused for the second set.”Williams is aiming to tie Margaret Court’s Grand Slam win total of 24. She is just one away with 23. She came close to equaling the record at the US Open last month, eventually losing in the semifinals to Victoria Azarenka.
A classic @serenawilliams reaction.
You love to see it.#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/cDEFCbFp7w
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) September 28, 2020 Williams has won the French Open three times, the last victory coming in 2015. She lost in the final a year later to Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza. In the second meeting between the pair in the space of a few weeks — Williams beat Ahn in the first round of the US Open — it was the world No.101 who started the fastest. Having not played on clay since losing to Sofia Kenin in the third round at Roland Garros in May 2019, Williams looked rusty which allowed Ahn to capitalize and race into a 4-2 lead in the opening set. Williams battled back though, tying the score at 4-4 and after going to a tie-break, clinching the opening set with her seventh ace. Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, features, and videos
And after getting warmed up, the former world No.1 quickly raced to victory, breaking Ahn’s serve three times in a row and winning the match with her 11th and final ace of the game. Williams will play Bulgaria’s US Open quarterfinalist Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.