Serena Williams plays first U.S. match
WASHINGTON -- Serena Williams' first sanctioned match in the United States in two years even caught the attention of first lady Michelle Obama.
The 29-year-old Williams helped lead the Washington Kastles of World Team Tennis to a 25-10 win over the Boston Lobsters on Thursday night. The 13-time Grand Slam singles champion, who was sidelined for nearly a full year due to foot injuries and a pulmonary embolism, hadn't played a sanctioned match on U.S. soil since losing to Kim Clijsters in the 2009 U.S. Open semifinals.
Playing in the WTT's distinctive format, Williams and doubles partner Rennae Stubbs opened the match with a 5-2 first set. In the fourth set she and mixed doubles partner Leander Paes won easily at 5-1. Williams then closed out the match with a tiebreak victory over Coco Vandeweghe in singles.
"I definitely had a really good time out there today," said Williams, who rallied back from a break down in the fifth set and capped the night with a crushing cross-court forehand winner.
"It's good for me sometimes to fall behind and catch up," she said.
Williams has been playing catch-up on the WTA Tour, returning last month. She and her sister Venus, who made her season debut with the Kastles on Tuesday, both lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon.
"I showed up and did a halfway decent job and I'll just continue to build on that," Williams said beforehand.
Obama spoke briefly with Williams before the match and then sat behind one of the baselines along with her children, Sasha and Malia.
"We were just doing a little chatting. She's so lovely," Williams said of Obama, whom she had met previously. "She was like, You have to come to the house.' I'm like, 'I definitely will. Save my room.'"
Williams, ranked 175th in the world, doesn't appear concerned with her plummeting ranking.
"I haven't played in a year except for two tournaments," she said. "It is what it is."
Her last match in the U.S. ended in bizarre, ugly fashion. Williams was penalized a point on match point after yelling and shaking her racket in the direction of an official who called a foot fault.
"I don't even remember that incident to be honest," Williams said. "Whatever, it was ages ago. That was so 2009."
Winner of 37 singles titles, Williams said she expects to play in upcoming WTA tournaments at Stanford, Toronto and Cincinnati before the U.S. Open.
"It's so beautiful and now we are right on the water," said Williams, in her fourth season with the Kastles. "It's an amazing place."
Prior to Thursday's match, Williams participated in a clinic with kids from various youth organizations
"It's really cool. You come out and help the kids and watch them play," Williams said. "You never know what one kid or two kids or however many kids you can ultimately influence."
Known for her fashion flair on and off the court, Williams kept her outfit -- red tank top and navy blue skirt -- in line with the Kastles' standard uniform.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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