Former world number one Serena Williams raised the prospect of retirement on Tuesday just a few hours after she secured her first win on the circuit since the 2021 French Open.
Williams, 40, beat Nuria Parrizas-Diaz from Spain 6-3, 6-4 at the women’s National Bank Open.
“I’m just happy to get a win," said Williams. "It’s been a very long time, I forgot what that felt like."
It was a poignant admission from a player who in her pomp was capable of ruthlessly dismantling her rivals with her serve and punishing groundstrokes.
"It's just the light at the end of the tunnel that keeps me motivated," she said. I guess the light means freedom. I love playing but I can't do this so sometimes you just want to try your best to enjoy the moments and do the best that you can.”
The winner of 23 Grand Slam singles returned to competition at Wimbledon just over a month ago.
But she suffered a shock first round loss to the unheralded Frenchwoman Harmony Tan.
Her last outing before that setback came at the 2021 Wimbledon tournament, where she retired in the middle of her first match due to a torn hamstring that she suffered after slipping on the grass surface.
Williams won the National Bank Open during its incarnation as the Rogers Cup but has not competed at the even - one of the warm-ups for the US Open - since 2019.
“I feel good," Williams added. "I felt like I competed well. I think that’s what I needed to do, is just compete.
“Mentally, I’m getting there. I’m not where I normally am or where I want to be. Any match I play, whether I win or lose, helps me.
"I feel much better in practice, it’s just getting that to the court. Literally, I’m the kind of person where it takes one or two things and then it clicks.”
In other opening-round action, Canada’s Leylah Fernandez made her return to the court with a 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 win over Storm Sanders from Australian
Sloane Stephens beat compatriot Sofia Kenan in three sets, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5, in a three-hour match that was interrupted twice by rain.