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Serena Williams struggles early but wins first match in almost a year

June 14, 2011 |  9:32 am

Serena_640 Before Tuesday, Serena Williams hadn't played competitive tennis in nearly a year. But going into her first-round match against Tsvetana Pironkova in Eastbourne, England, Williams said she was "feeling hot" even after the "long road back" from a pair of foot surgeries and blood clots in her lungs (see the WTA video, right).

Still, she struggled early against Pironkova, dropping the first set after falling behind, 5-0, before holding for the first time. Then Williams started to return to form, reeling off the first three games of the second set to take control of the match.  which she eventually won, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“I'm just so happy to be back,” Williams said.

It was her first match since winning Wimbledon last year. Eastbourne is a traditional warmup tournament for that event, which begins next week.


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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Serena Williams celebrates a point in her match against Tsventana Pironkova on Tuesday. Credit: Mike Hewitt / Getty Images