Zarina Diyas loses to Serena Williams

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Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka each made winning returns to the Indian Wells Masters with comfortable first round victories in California.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion defeated Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas in 7-5, 6-3 sets at the BNP Paribas Open in California on Thursday.

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.

It is noteworthy to mention that the USA tennis player has won 3 matches vs. Zarina Diyas, while the latter has never beaten Williams. I went in there knowing I'm not going to be my best these first few matches, but I'm playing with nothing to lose. 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. We have always turned a couple of hard sets. "My comeback could not have come on a better day", she wrote.

She said multiple times throughout the evening just how happy she was to be on the court.

As for Indian Wells, Williams just wants to take it in. "I'm really just trying to take it easy and not put too much stress or pressure or expectation on myself".

Williams served a love game capped by a 100-mph ace in her first service game.

Speaking after her win over Diyas, she said: "It was incredible". I wasn't going to play [the French Open] unless I had a TUE because if you remember that year I was incredibly sick.

"Unfortunately, this situation is a little bit out of my control, so I have to go with the flow and continue to be positive, continue to be optimistic and continue to just fight, because that's what I'm best at - fighting", she said.

Also in Williams' box were her mother Oracene, sisters Lyndrea and Isha, her agent, and her coach Patrick Mouratoglou. The fourth billboard shows a photograph of Williams and their daughter with the phrase "G.M.O.A.T" - greatest mother of all time - and is signed by Alexis Sr and Jr.

Azarenka had a tough act to follow.

Bellis led five Americans into the second round.

In the men's draw on opening day, American men went 3-5 to start with Taylor Fritz beating towering countryman Reilly Opelka, qualifier Mitchell Krueger stunning Benoit Paire and Jared Donaldson ousting Evan King.

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