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Serena Williams conceded she had been rusty on her return to professional tennis after more than a year away from the game but still did enough to secure a 7-5 6-3 win over Zarina Diyas in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.

Williams, who had not played a singles match since winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant, chalked up 27 unforced errors with 34 winners to defeat her 53rd-ranked opponent in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd in California.

“It was incredible. It’s been over a year and a kid later. I get to go home to her now and I’m excited about that,” Williams said.

“It definitely wasn’t easy but it was good. I’m a little rusty but it doesn’t matter. I’m just out here on this journey doing the best I can.”

Serena plays Dutch 29th seed Kiki Bertens in the second round, while Venus takes on Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

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