Philippine Mavericks spearhead Serena Williams glad to be on home side this time
Serena Williams hits a backhand against Ana Ivanovic. Jerome Ascano

SHE had a warm reception as a relative villain. What more when she turned into a hero?

After playing for the Singapore Slammers last year, Serena Williams was glad to be on the Philippine Mavericks’ side this time in the Manila leg of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) Season 2.

“I had a wonderful reception last year and this year, even more of a reception,” the American tennis star said after the Mavericks’ 29-18 win over UAE on Sunday. “I was surprised and it felt really good.”

“I love the crowd here,” she added. “They’re so for the Philippine Mavericks, so it feels good to be back here. I’m so glad.”

[See Serena and Co. off to fiery start]

Williams skipped her last two scheduled tournaments of the year – the China Open and the WTA Finals in Singapore – to recuperate from a series of injuries.

The women’s world No. 1 was also trying to recover from the heartbreak of falling two matches short of becoming the first player to win all four major tournaments in the same year in almost three decades when she lost to Roberta Vinci in the semifinals of the US Open.

But she seems fine now as she chose to play in the IPTL to start her early buildup for next year.

“That’s why I’m here again, because I had a lot of fun last year, and I definitely want to continue it,” the 34-year-old netter said. “Especially when I was forced out early, it’s a good opportunity to get some tennis in and get ready.”

Williams split her two sets on Sunday against the UAE Royals, losing with Treat Huey in the mixed doubles, before beating Ana Ivanovic in the singles.

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