World number two Serena Williams shook out any cobwebs from four months away from tennis with a 6-3 6-4 victory over France's Pauline Parmentier in the first round of the Auckland Classic on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old had not played a competitive match since she lost to Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals of the US Open last September, withdrawing from all tennis to deal with a persistent shoulder injury.
The 22-time grand slam winner, who participated in a charity doubles match with her sister, Venus, against All Blacks siblings Julian and Ardie Savea before the tournament started, was appearing for the first time in Auckland.
Persistent rain on Monday had postponed her first-round match until Tuesday.
She struggled with the wind and had some rusty moments in the second set when the Frenchwoman broke in the fourth game and held three break points in the sixth.
The top seed was able to overcome them, however, and won the match with her eighth ace.
"It was my first match back in several months and I played a really good player," Williams said courtside after she wrapped up victory in 75 minutes, to set up a second-round clash against either qualifier Jamie Loeb or Madison Brengle.
"The wind was really getting to me. Every day I have practised here there was no wind but today it was so windy. So it was fun. Actually, it wasn't fun, it was interesting.
"I'm feeling like I'm getting there. Every match counts."
Also on centre court on Tuesday, the New Zealand number one Marina Erakovic was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by the seventh seeded Latvian, Jelena Ostapenko.
The recently crowned national champion, Jade Lewis, made her WTA debut against the second seed Venus Williams, but the match was suspended by rain with the score at two-all in the first set.
- Reuters, RNZ