Serena Williams returned with a win as she powered past Maria Sakkari in her first Mastercard Hopman Cup 2019 singles rubber.
Williams looked sluggish early, and needed her left ankle re-strapped after winning the first set.
But the 23-time Grand Slam champion wasn’t hindered by the inconvenience, snaring two breaks in the second set to wrap up the match in 104 minutes.
Strong start to the season for @serenawilliams.
— Hopman Cup (@hopmancup) December 31, 2018
Her win levelled the tie between the US and Greece at 1-1 after world No.15 Stefanos Tsitsipas beat American Frances Tiafoe 6-3 6-7 (3) 6-3 in 135 minutes.
Although Williams committed a host of errors during the match, she was happy to come away with the win.
“It’s great to be back out in match day, and it’s great to be back out here,” Williams said.
“I love playing in Australia. Some of my best memories are here.
“It was my first match back (today), she played unbelievable. Maria is super young and such a good player.
“I was making a lot of errors. I was like, ‘It’s ok, it’s your first match and you’ll get better’. I just kept trying to think that.”
Williams’ appearance in Perth is her first tournament since she was runner-up at the 2018 US Open.
She is contesting Mastercard Hopman Cup for the fifth time in total. Serena teamed with James Blake to deliver USA a title on debut in 2003, and triumphed with Mardy Fish in 2008.
But the path to a seventh title for the USA was complicated when Sakkari and Tsitsipas secured the tie for Greece with a three-set win in the live mixed doubles rubber.