Serena Williams earns her first victory of the season in Toronto

TORONTO (AP) – Serena Williams earned her first win in over a year on Monday, beating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-3, 6-4 at the National Bank Women’s Open.

It is only the second tournament of the season for Williams, 40, who returned to competition at Wimbledon just over a month ago. The 23-time Grand Slam champion fell in the first round to Harmony Tan in three sets at the All England Club.

Prior to that, she last competed at the 2021 Wimbledon tournament, where she retired midway through her first match due to a hamstring tear sustained after slipping on the grass surface.

Williams’ first win since the 2021 French Open sent her to face either Belinda Bencic or Tereza Martincova.

Williams started strong, winning the first two games with relative ease.

Parrizas-Diaz tied 2-2, but despite Williams struggling at times, the 31-year-old Spaniard couldn’t find enough pace to get ahead. Williams found his rhythm, mixing solid touch with his signature power and putting blow after blow out of Parrizas-Diaz’s reach.

Williams’ effort had fans on their feet screaming and some even bowing.

Williams won the last three games to claim the first set, then took the lead in the second after 57th-ranked Parrizas-Diaz took a 4-3 lead. She endured a nine-two game to hold serve and even the set, then broke the next game before serving the win.

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