Tennis: Relieved Serena Williams reaches Australian Open second round

Serena Williams reacts during her first round match against Camila Giorgi at the Australian Open.
Serena Williams reacts during her first round match against Camila Giorgi at the Australian Open. PHOTO: REUTERS

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Defending champion Serena Williams reached the second round of the Australian Open on Monday after completing a tense 6-4, 7-5 win over feisty Italian Camila Giorgi in her first tour match in four months.

The world No. 1 had barely played any competitive tennis since her US Open exit last September and entered a sweltering Rod Laver Arena with doubts over her fitness to face the highest-ranked unseeded player in the draw.

The slight but hard-hitting Giorgi conceded a 4-1 lead early but steadied to give the American a genuine test and Williams' roars of frustration underlined the growing tension as the match progressed.

However, it was Giorgi who wilted at 5-5 in the second set, a double-fault handing Williams the decisive break and allowing the American to close out the match with a barrage of booming serves.