Serena Williams is flying high on her return to Indian Wells and eager to make it a memorable tournament

The world No 1 ended a 13-year boycott by taking part in the Paribas Open

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The Independent Online

Serena Williams appears determined to make her first appearance at Indian Wells for 14 years a memorable one. The world No 1, who is playing at the Californian tournament for the first time since 2001, needed just 53 minutes to book her place in the fourth round when she beat Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas 6-2, 6-0 on Monday.

Williams boycotted Indian Wells after she was abused and jeered by large sections of the crowd in the 2001 final against Kim Clijsters. Richard Williams, her father, who watched the match in the company of Serena’s sister Venus, complained that he was racially abused during the match. The incident followed Venus’s withdrawal from her scheduled semi-final against her sister because of injury.

“Things are going in the right direction,” Serena said after her latest victory. “I was able to feel more consistent and that worked in my favour. I’m glad to still be here and in the tournament. I love the support. I was able to relax because I was able to do more of the right things and not make as many mistakes as I did in my last round.”

Williams looked less nervous than she had been in her opening match, when she beat Romania’s Monica Niculescu. She next faces her fellow American, Sloane Stephens, who beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6, 1-6, 6-4.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both won their opening matches with something to spare. Federer, who is aiming to win the title for a record fifth time, needed little more than an hour to beat Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2 to earn a meeting with Italy’s Andreas Seppi, who beat him at the Australian Open two months ago. “I’m happy to play him again,” Federer said. “I was very disappointed with the performance in Australia.”

Serena was emotional during her first match


Nadal, three times a champion at Indian Wells, beat the Dutchman Igor Sijsling 6-4, 6-2 and now faces the American Donald Young, who beat France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-2. Stan Wawrinka, however, suffered a surprising defeat, losing 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to Robin Haase. The Swiss No 2 had won all six of his previous meetings with Haase but was soon in trouble as he dropped his serve twice in the first set. The Dutchman will next play the Czech Republic’s Lukas Rosol, who beat Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-0, 6-3.