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Abu Dhabi MWTC: Bautista Agut sets Djokovic clash. Anderson will face Thiem

Abu Dhabi MWTC: Bautista Agut sets Djokovic clash. Anderson will face Thiem

But she failed to fully rediscover her rhythm and quickly dropped the first set 6-2 to the Latvian Ostapenko, the French Open champion. "She's not only an incredible champion, she's a role model for millions of athletes all over the world and she joins Jelena in offering the UAE a match worthy of grand slam heritage right in the center of Abu Dhabi".

Thiem had a phenomenal clay-court season in 2017, where he stood out as the main rival against a dominant Rafael Nadal.

Williams, normally a gritty fighter on court, was unfazed by the defeat in front of an appreciative crowd and was in a jovial mood in the interview after the match, which ended with Serena sending a backhand return wide.

"I was a little anxious out there and I looked at my camp and I was like 'Is Olympia OK?'".

"But it's really good".

Her unwillingness to make public any planned appearances other than Abu Dhabi leaves observers to wonder if she wants to wait and see how her training goes. It's my first time playing in Abu Dhabi. "I've never had surgery in my life, I've never had any major injuries that kept me away from the tour for such a long time".

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"The first match is always really hard after a break", Williams said. He posted a photo with a boy from the audience, who snuck down to take a selfie.

It is a surprise to see the American back in action so quickly, but she definitely has her eyes on a 24th Grand Slam trophy in Melbourne, but made a decision to compete in Abu Dhabi for her comeback, "I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter in September".

In addition to the top moments she listed, Williams also married Ohanian in a New Orleans wedding in November, after giving birth to their daughter in September.

Djokovic, however, believes that his decision to take time off would surely pay dividends at Melbourne Park.

The American made it clear that she was not going to retire and felt there were still a few years left in the legs, but it seemed as though she might struggle to make it back in time for the Australia Open in January.