Serena Williams Is Back To Being The Black Panther Of Tennis

    The trials and tribulations of Serena Williams pregnancy and the revelation of a near death experience during her child birth has been well-documented.  With that challenge in the rear view mirror and her baby doing well, Serena won her first singles match on the WTA Tour after a 14-month layoff and recovery period. 

    Ladies watch out. The female Black Panther has risen. She fittingly returned to the game on International Women’ Day and she’s not taking any shorts. The 36-year-old former No. 1 player in the world and the GOAT of American tennis reached the second round at Indian Wells with a 7-5 6-3 victory over Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas on Thursday. 

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    It was incredible. It’s been over a year, and a kid, later.” @serenawilliams is well and truly back with a 7-5 6-3 win over Zarina Diyas in Indian Wells – her first tour match for 14 months. https://t.co/NwcF305JGm

    It was her first singles match on the Tour since she won the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant. Thats 415 days between matches, which was the longest layoff of a pro career that has spanned two decades. 

    “I’m a little rusty but it doesn’t matter,” said the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion whose serve reached 100 mph as she started cooking in the match. 

    “It definitely wasn’t easy but it was good.”

    Williams was met with a standing ovation when she walked onto the court. Her husband Alexis Ohanian was among those in the crowd watching Serena advance to a second-round match with 29th-seeded Dutch player Kiki Bertens.

    2018 Indian Wells First Round | Serena Williams vs Zarina Diyas | WTA Highlights

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    Now that Serena is back, order can be restored. The effect of her absence on the WTA rankings is like when a King goes off to war and is hit in battle, everyone prematurely thinks he’s dead, leaving this massive vacuum of power that contenders to the throne all run to fill, but no one can actually maintain it once they get it. 

    During Serenas chill session, five different players had been ranked No. 1 in the world in 2017, tied for the most in WTA rankings history. 

    All we did was get a glimpse into life without Serena in womens tennis. Pretender after pretender all knocking each other off on any given day. A ride of dominance like the one Serena has experienced and the cultural impact of her and sister Venus’ journey is incomparable. 

    That is why the 23-time majors champion is widely considered the greatest athlete of our generation. Serena should regain her No. 1 ranking pretty quickly and shes already a 9-2 favorite to win the French Open in May. 

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.