INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Serena Williams is in the house.
The 36-year-old hosted a charity tennis event Tuesday – straight off an appearance at the first all-female Tie Break Tens event at Madison Square Garden in New York City,.
Wednesday morning, she had her first hit at the BNP Paribas Open in the relatively private confines of the main stadium.
Williams, unseeded, was one of the dangerous floaters – probably THE most dangerous floaters in a draw that contains several.
The way the draw, which took place Monday, shook out, she ended up drawing Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in the first round.
No first-round bye
To put it all in perspective, Williams probably doesn’t even remember what it’s like to PLAY a first round at Indian Wells, especially because she didn’t play the event from 2002 until her return in 2015.
With its 96-player draw, the 32 seeded players now have first-round byes.
The last time it happened was … 1999, when the Indian Wells draw was just 64 players. Williams, then 17, beat Jessica Steck of South Africa in the first round and upset world No. 2 Lindsay Davenport in the second round. She went all the way to the title, beating No. 5 seed Steffi Graf 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 in the final.
Here’s what she looked like on court this morning.