Serena struggles to 3-set win on return to play

By the Associated Press | June 14, 2011 | 10:43 AM EDT

Serena Williams speaks during a television interview next to the courts ahead of her match Tuesday at the Eastbourne International in Eastbourne, England, Monday, June 13, 2011. The 13-time Grand Slam champion returns to action Tuesday at the Eastbourne International after recovering from an injured tendon in her foot, which led to a blood clot in her lung. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

EASTBOURNE, England (AP) — Serena Williams recovered from a slow start to win her first match after being sidelined for nearly a year, defeating Tsvetana Pironkova 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 Tuesday in the first round at Eastbourne.

The 13-time Grand Slam champion started out looking nothing like the player who lifted the Wimbledon trophy last year in her last tournament. Her movement was uncertain, and she appeared not to trust her groundstrokes or her usually dominant serve.

She held for the first time at 5-0 down, with the help of her first ace of the match.

Williams settled down and reeled off the first three games of the second set to take control. Despite squandering a 2-0 lead in the decider, she broke again to win in the third.