Serena Williams ‘overwhelmed’ by Filipino crowd in IPTL debut
MANILA, Philippines—World No. 1 Serena Williams had her hands full against unheralded Kristen Flipkens in her singles debut in the International Premier Tennis League Sunday night.
Williams, who arrived Saturday night as part of the Singapore Slammers, also participated in the mixed doubles with Lleyton Hewitt.
“It wasn’t easy but I had a lot of fun so it was a really fun play,” said Williams, who was breathing heavily, after scoring a 6-3 victory over Flipkens.
Flipkens also played her first match for the Manila Mavericks—filling in for Maria Sharapova, who left the country Sunday morning.
Williams, a three-time Olympic gold medalist apart from her multiple Grand Slams, also said she was overwhelmed by the warm reception she received from the Filipino crowd the moment she was introduced.
“The reaction was really nice and was really overwhelming,” Williams said. “To play in front of you guys is really my honor.”
The 33-year-old Williams had a shaky start in the mixed doubles where she and Hewitt yielded to Andy Murray and Flipkens, 6-1. But she loosened up in her singles match and gave the crowd glimpses of her world-class form.
However, Williams’ arrival was still not enough as the Slammers failed to win in the Manila leg.
The tournament now shifts to Singapore from Dec. 2-4.