Following her three-set rally in the first round of the French Open, Serena Williams stated, "This isn't the Serena I have been practicing with or that I see every day."
On Thursday at Roland Garros, that 'other' Serena showed up. Williams defeated qualifier Kurumi Nara, 6-3, 6-2, blasting 36 winners to set a third-round meeting with countrywoman Sofia Kenin.
"I think I was too nervous in my first round match. I knew I could play better and couldn't go down," Williams told Chanda Rubin afterwards. "I'm enjoying every moment and it's so amazing."
Williams is bidding to claim her 24th major singles trophy, which would tie Margaret Court's all-time record. A three-time winner in Paris, Williams is seeking her first French Open crown since 2015, and has never faced Kenin previously.
"I know her game really well. She had a really great run in Australia, and I have been watching her," Williams said in her post-match press conference. "I think it will be a good match. She has a lot to bring to the table. She has a lot of excitement. She's so young, and she's such a good player. I'm actually looking forward to that match."
Seeded 10th, Williams overpowered Nara throughout their encounter. The Japanese did well to save six break points for a 3-all hold in the first set, but after that, it was all Williams. The 37-year-old pounded Nara's second serve, ripping numerous forehand return winners to take hold of the match.
"I have been working on a lot of different things on my return in practice the past several months. Hopefully now it's starting to show," said Williams.
Williams did not face a break point, closing out the 67-minute victory with three consecutive aces.