NEW YORK – American tennis star Serena Williams played in the Tie Break Tens, an exhibition event at New York’s Madison Square Garden, to prepare for Indian Wells, where she will make her return to the WTA Tour this week after an absence of more than one year.
The 36-year-old Williams, who played doubles in the Federation Cup last month, will play her first WTA singles match in the California desert after giving birth in September and experiencing complications that forced her to spend several weeks in bed.
Williams, who has not played in a tournament in 14 months, won the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant.
The American star lost an exhibition match to Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, the French Open champion, on Dec. 30.
On Monday, Williams played France’s Marion Bartoli in the Tie Break Tens, which uses a tiebreak-style elimination format with the first player to 10 points winning and advancing.
The 33-year-old Bartoli is also on the comeback trail after winning Wimbledon in 2013 and then retiring from tennis.
Williams beat Bartoli, saying afterwards that she had enjoyed being on court again.
“You should always believe in yourself even if no one else does,” Williams said in an on-court interview.
Williams will play Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas on Wednesday in the first round at Indian Wells.
Among the other players in the draw at Indian Wells are world No. 1 Simona Halep, of Romania; defending champion Elena Vesnina, of Russia; Russian star Maria Sharapova; Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, who won the Australian Open; and Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza, the reigning Wimbledon champion.