After more than three months off the court, Serena Williams still managed to find her power game after a sluggish start as she overcame qualifier Camila Giorgi to open her 2020 season with a straight-sets victory at the Auckland WTA Classic on Tuesday.

A training ground ahead of the Australian Open later in the month, the 38-year-old, who earlier was sluggish, then powered her way to a blistering performance that proved too much for the 1.7 metre (5ft 6in) Italian.

Williams described her first match since losing the US Open final in September as “solid” rather than spectacular. “Spent a long time off from tournament play, match play, so solid is pretty good. It’s a great start to build on,” she was quoted as saying by AFP after sealing her 6-3, 6-2 victory with her eighth ace against the 99th-ranked Giorgi.

“It’s really good that I still have some power left in my arms and my legs.”

Williams was originally scheduled to play two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova before the Russian pulled out due to a virus. She said her preparation had been helped by playing doubles with Caroline Wozniacki the previous evening which allowed her to adapt to the blustery Auckland weather.

“I knew it was going to be really tough but I think the doubles really helped. I got to come out here and play a little bit in these conditions and get used to them.”

Being her first match after a long while, Williams took time to settle down but soon found her groove. She was forced to save an early break point with the first six games all going with serve. But at 3-3 in the first set, Williams found her range and from there on the result was never in doubt.

Auckland is an important tournament for the veteran as she prepares for the Australian Open later in the month with her eyes firmly on a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.