Now that she's "Mrs Williams", per the Wimbledon chair umpire, now that she's a mother, now that she is back on tour, Serena Williams is ready to rediscover her full complement of shots and full ability to dominate.
"Not only do I expect to win," she said yesterday after picking up a victory in her first match at the All England Club in two years, "I expect to win emphatically."
Williams found herself in a bit of a jam against 105th-ranked Arantxa Rus, of the Netherlands, down by a break in the second set on a windy afternoon. And then, a five-game run and 25 minutes later, Williams had completed the 7-5, 6-3 result.
"I have such high expectations of myself," said Williams, whose 23 grand slam singles championships include seven at Wimbledon, so she was seeded 25th even though her ranking is 181st following an extended absence. "I don't go out there expecting to 'do well' or 'see what happens.' That's just not me."
Day one featured some mild surprises, such as US Open champion and French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens' third first-round exit in the past five majors, and losses by No5 Elina Svitolina and No6 Grigor Dimitrov (to three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka).
Also drawing attention was eight-time Wimbledon champ Roger Federer's new clothing sponsorship, during his easy-as-can-be victory at Centre Court.
Nothing feels as significant in tennis today, though, as what Williams does - because of what she's accomplished in the past and because of what she's trying to accomplish in the present, with a baby in tow. Not that she's unique: Other mothers who won yesterday included 57th-ranked Tatjana Maria, of Germany, who beat Svitolina 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-1; former No1 and two-time Australian Open titlist Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and 120th-ranked qualifier Evgeniya Rodina, of Russia.
Williams has won 15 matches in a row at Wimbledon, a streak that encompasses titles in 2015 and 2016, although Williams said that hadn't occurred to her until a reporter mentioned it. The 36-year-old American sat out the tournament last year while pregnant; she gave birth to a daughter in September and married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in November (hence the change from "Miss Williams" over the arena microphone).
This is only Williams' second major tournament in nearly 18 months. She returned at the French Open in May, and won three matches there before withdrawing with an injured pectoral muscle. She went a few weeks without even attempting to serve, while healing.
Her sister, five-time Wimbledon champion and 2017 finalist Venus, had far more trouble at No2 Court, slipping to the turf a couple of times and barely moving on with a 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-1 win against Johanna Larsson of Sweden, who dropped to 0-8 at the All England Club.