Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou has admitted the former world No 1 is still managing a knee problem as she prepares for her second-round match with Kurumi Nara at the French Open.
Williams showed signs of rustiness as she dropped the first set in her opening-round match against Russia’s Vitalia Diatchenko, but she bounced back to lose just one game in remaining sets to make progress at Roland Garros.
After an injury problem derailed the first few months of her season, the 1999 and 2010 French Open champion is clearly edging her way back to her best and Eurosport analyst Mouratoglou has told Tennis365 that the 23-time Grand Slam champion has done a great job just to get herself on the court in Paris.
“I think Serena is doing well,” he stated. “She had a big injury which meant she had to pull out of Miami out of the tournament which took a lot of time to recover from and to be able to practice again.
“She didn’t have as much time as we expected to prepare for a Grand Slam. Considering the small amount of time she had, I think she did an incredible job and I can see that she is able to compete at a good level so I’m quite happy.
“She was very nervous in her first match. She is under a lot of pressure to try and win this record title and she had to control those nerves, but she started to play better in the second and third set.
“In practice, she has been playing really good tennis so it was a surprise to see her playing so bad in the first set. Now we hope that bad set is out of the way and we can look forward to this second round.
“Of course, it’s not perfect but you can’t control everything. Injuries are part of what you can’t control and I think she did the best she could considering the situation. The knee is okay, it’s not perfect, but it’s under control. She has won Grand Slams with injuries before so she can manage the pain.”
Williams, 37, faces Japan’s Kurumi Nara on Thursday, as she admits she needs to spend more time on the practice court as she looks forward to equalling Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles.
“There is always a lot of fear for a first-round match,” Williams said. “I made lots of mistakes in the first set and I just said ‘good luck, Serena’. I was strong after that. Now I feel like I need to go and practice.”
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