Serena Williams wins in tennis comeback in Indian Wells

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INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 08: Serena Williams leaves the court after defeating Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 8, 2018 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Making her tennis comeback after becoming a mom for the first time, Serena Williams beat Zarina Diyas in straight sets in the first round in Indian Wells.

Williams overcame Diyas 7-5 6-3 in the California desert on Thursday in her first competitive singles match since winning the 2017 Australian Open 14 months ago.

The American claimed her record 23rd grand slam title in Melbourne in the early stages of pregnancy and then didn’t play again for the rest of 2017.

She gave birth to daughter Alexis in early September by emergency C-section and┬árevealed to CNN┬áthat she almost died in the days thereafter, being diagnosed with another pulmonary embolism — Williams had the same condition in 2011 — that triggered other complications.

Her eventful year continued. Williams subsequently got married in New Orleans in November to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian — who was in Williams’ player box Thursday — before stepping back on court in late December for an exhibition in Abu Dhabi against French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

The 36-year-old contested her first competitive match of the year last month, combining with big sister Venus in doubles in team competition the Fed Cup against the Netherlands.

Williams — who now doesn’t have a ranking because of her inactivity — could meet Venus in the third round in Indian Wells.

Her match against Kazakhstan’s Diyas marked the first time since 1999 that Williams didn’t have a first-round bye in Indian Wells or Miami, the pair of tournaments known as the sunshine double.

They are considered the two biggest combined events outside the majors.

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