After an injury that nearly destroyed her career, tennis pro Serena Williams was back on the court Tuesday for round one of the 2011 Wimbledon championship.

The four-time Wimbledon champ, who is going for her third-straight title, defeated Aravane Rezai of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in an intense three-set match marked by struggles and emotion.

Williams, whose appearance at Wimbledon Tuesday marked her first major tournament in 11 months, was moved to tears after she handedly closed the third and final set of the match. “I usually don’t cry, so I don’t understand it,” she later told BBC News. “It’s just been so hard. I never dreamed that I’d be here. And to win … It was a really big win for me.”

It’s been a rocky year for the seventh-seeded player. She recently underwent multiple surgeries for a foot injury, and earlier this year, doctors found blood clots in her lungs. Williams later referred to her bout with pulmonary embolism to as the scariest moment of her life.

[Washington Post]