BC-TEN--Indian Wells,3rd Ld-Writethru
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Serena Williams’ return to tennis after a five-week break ended with her retiring from the BNP Paribas Open because of a viral illness on Sunday.
Williams raced to a 3-0 lead over two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza in their third-round match before dropping six straight games and the first set, 6-3.
“She started playing well, right away with her serve, with her shots, being very dominating,” Muguruza said. “I had to adapt a little bit my position in the court, the way I was hitting, and it took me a few games to kind of do it. Once I did it, I felt much more comfortable.”
Muguruza is the only player to have beaten both Serena and Venus Williams in tournament finals.
During the changeover between sets, Williams called for a trainer. She went back out and lost the first game of the second set. The match was soon declared over and Williams walked off the court.
“It’s really a weird feeling because I don’t feel like I won the match point and well done, good match,” Muguruza said. “It was just like, ‘Man, we’ll play next time.’”
Williams was playing her first tournament since the Australian Open in late January, when she lost in the quarterfinals.
After a first-round bye in Indian Wells, she beat Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-3 on Friday night.
It’s the second time in four years that Williams has withdrawn from the tournament. She returned to the desert in 2015 after a 15-year boycott. That year she reached the semifinals before withdrawing against Simona Halep. She missed 2017 because of pregnancy.
Earlier, Roger Federer beat Peter Gojowczyk 6-1, 7-5 in the second round.
Federer saved six of seven break chances against the German after losing just two points on his serve in the first set.
Federer has reached the final of the desert tournament in his last four appearances, winning two years ago. In all, he owns five titles at Indian Wells. He won his 100th career title in Dubai last week.
Halep, the No. 2 seed, needed nearly two hours to beat qualifier Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (3), 6-3 in the third round.
Kozlova led 6-5 and was within two points of winning the first set before Halep forced a tiebreaker in their first meeting. Halep dominated the tiebreaker, urged on by a large contingent of Romanian fans at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
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