Serena Williams’ poor return to tennis continued on Tuesday, as she was knocked out in straight sets by 68th-ranked Katerina Siniakova in the second round of the Emilia-Romagna Open. Top-seeded Williams, who accepted a wild-card invitation to Parma after losing her first match at the Italian Open last week, was defeated 7-6 (4), 6-2.
She had beaten young qualifier Lisa Pigato 6-3, 6-2 in the previous round, her first win since overcoming Simona Halep in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in February. Williams then took a break before losing in straight sets against Nadia Podoroska in Rome.
Williams is preparing for the French Open, which begins on May 30 in Paris. Siniakova saved a set point at 5-4 in the first set, which looked to give the Czech player confidence, as she surged away in the second set to win 16 of the last 18 games after clinching the tiebreak. Under pressure, the 39-year-old Williams piled up double faults, and Siniakova secured the victory on her third match chance when the American blasted a forehand long.
Third-seeded Coco Gauff defeated Kaia Kanepi 7-6 (6), 7-6 (7) in the first round. Petra Martic, the second seed, began her Parma campaign with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Varvara Gracheva.