Serena Williams celebrates her first win of the season in Toronto


Serena Williams hadn’t won in so long, she said she couldn’t even remember the feeling.

She claimed her first win since the 2021 French Open on Monday, beating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-3, 6-4 at the women’s National Bank Open.

“I’m just happy about a win. It’s been a long time, I’ve forgotten how it feels,” said Williams.

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

Previously, she last competed at the 2021 Wimbledon tournament, where she retired in the middle of her first match due to a torn hamstring she sustained after slipping on the grass field.

Williams, who turns 41 at the end of September, next faces either Belinda Bencic or Tereza Martincova in 12th place.

Williams has won this tournament three times and reached the final in her last appearance at the hard-court event in 2019, losing to Bianca Andreescu when she was forced to retire due to injury.

But Williams has played little since then and knows she needs time on the pitch.

“I feel good, I had the feeling that I started well today. I think that’s what I had to do, just line up,” she said. “Mentally I’m getting there. I’m not where I usually am (or) where I want to be. Every game I play, win or lose, helps me.

“I haven’t played much in the last year, (actually) two years. I think that helps me physically. I feel a lot better in training, it just brings that to the pitch. I’m literally the kind of person[where]it takes one or two things and then it clicks.”

Williams started strong and won the first two games with relative ease.

Parrizas-Diaz drew 2-2 but despite Williams’ struggles at certain points, the 31-year-old Spaniard couldn’t find enough of a constant flow to progress. Williams found her rhythm, mixing a solid touch with her signature power, and executing shot after shot just outside of Parrizas-Diaz’s reach.

Williams’ dedication had fans roaring and some even bowing.

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

While Williams says the end of her remarkable career is near, she’s enjoying her time and staying in the moment.

“I’m getting closer to the light. It’s been like this lately, I can’t wait to get to this light,” she said, adding that the light represents “freedom.”

“I love to play, it’s amazing,” she added. “I can’t do this forever so sometimes you just want to do your best to enjoy the moments and do the best you can.”