Venus Williams played through illness to win a seesaw opening round match against German Andrea Petkovic 6-4,0-6, 6-3 at the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.
Williams, who received medical attention from a trainer late in the first set, saved her best tennis for the biggest moments, breaking Petkovic for a sixth time in the final game to make up for a dismal second set.
Asked in an on-court interview to describe the encounter, the 38-year-old former world number one was almost at a loss for words.
"I don`t know honestly. I`m still trying to figure it out," she said to laughs from the crowd on a sunny and windy day in the California desert.
"Every day is not your best day but that doesn`t mean the heart and desire aren`t there."
Thursday`s match was just Williams`s seventh of the year and first since January`s Australian Open, where she fell to Simona Halep in the round of 32.
The win sets up a mouthwatering second-round clash with third seed Petra Kvitova, who holds a 4-2 edge in their previous meetings.
Canadian Eugenie Bouchard also required medical attention during the second set of her closely-fought evening match against Kirsten Flipkens, where she fell 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 to the German.
It was unclear what the problem was with Bouchard, who held a towel to her face while trainers attended to her during a medical timeout. But she appeared fine after the break.
The marathon battle included fantastic points from both players but Flipkens was ultimately the sharper of the pair, smacking a forehand winner crosscourt on match point to advance to the second round of the tournament for the fifth time.
The other first-round winners on Thursday included Estonian Kaia Kanepi, Japan`s Misaki Doi, American Madison Brengle and Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova.