Serena Williams began her French Open preparations with a routine 6-4, 6-2 victory over Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson in the opening round of the Italian Open on Monday.
Williams was back in action in only her fourth tournament of the season and the first since being forced to withdraw from the Miami Open in March due to a knee injury.
The 37-year-old American fell behind 3-1 but recovered with a string of powerful groundstrokes from the baseline, clinching five of the next six games for the opening set.
Peterson, the world number 64, dug deep to grab two break points in the final game of the match but Williams saved both, before wrapping up the win in an hour and 15 minutes.
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, has finished runner-up at two of the last three majors but been unable to add to her tally since returning to the sport following the birth of her first child in 2017.
Williams, who has dropped to number 11 in the world rankings, will next face the winner of the first round clash between her sister Venus and reigning Qatar Open champion Elise Mertens.
After an opening round exit at the Madrid Open last week, former world number one Garbine Muguruza scored her first win in over a month as she eased past China's Zheng Saisai 6-3, 6-4.
Mary Kom to make competitive debut in 51 kg at home at India Open
London Olympic bronze medallist Mary Kom will make her competitive debut at home in 51 kg in the second edition of the India Open boxing tournament, to be held in Guwahati from May 20-24.
With Olympic qualification round the corner, India Open with witness 35 men and 37 women boxers from India vying for glory, even as close to 200 pugilists from 16 boxing powerhouses will participate in the $ 70,000 tournament.
Mary Kom had opted out of the Asian Championships last month in order to prepare for the World Championships as the event will serve as good preparatory ground for Olympic qualification.
"I have been preparing well for 51kg category. Having got a real hand idea of the competition in this class in Germany, I am ready to give my best at this tournament and test myself ahead of the World Championships," said Mary Kom, who led six Indian boxers to gold in the last edition in New Delhi.
"I am glad the event will be hosted in Assam this time. With the North-East being a powerhouse of talent, I hope this gives an opportunity to the youngsters to watch and get inspired by watching us live," she added.
Keeping in mind the approved weight categories for Olympic qualification, some of the Indian pugilists have changed their weight divisions.
After her stunning performance at the Asian Championships, where she became the first Indian to win a gold in 81 kg, Pooja Rani has gone back to her original weight category of 75 kg.
Assam's Bhagyabati Kachari too has made a similar change while Asian Championships bronze medallist Manisha Moun will be fighting it out in 57 kg for the very first time.
Simranjit Kaur, a silver medallist at the continental tournament in 64 kg, has switched to 60 kg and will be competing with former world champion Sarita Devi, who added her eighth Asian medal this year.
While the six-time world champion will be India's biggest medal hope yet again, Amit Panghal (52 kg) will be looking to continue his dominance after conquering the Asian Championships gold.
Assam's Shiva Thapa (60 kg), who created a record by winning medals in four consecutive Asian Championships, will be aiming to impress the home crowd, and so will Ankushita Boro (64 kg), a gold medallist at the 2017 World Youth Championship.
2017 World Boxing Championships bronze medallist Gaurav Bidhuri (56kg) will be another of the big medal bets from India.
"The India Open is a great opportunity for the Indian boxers. In the run-up to their preparations for the World Championships, they will be facing some of the top boxers including Asian Games and World champions," said Ajay Singh, president of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI).
"BFI vision is to take boxing to every corner of the country. Staging the second edition of the India Open in Assam will give step in that direction and a chance to bring world-class boxers to the North-East region which has already contributed many Indian boxing success stories for India and will inspire the next generation to take up the sport in a much bigger way," he added.
In the upcoming edition, the gold medallists will get richer by $ 2,500, the silver medallists will receive USD1,000 for their exploits as the countdown for the tournament begins.