The 36-year-old gave birth to her first child in September after revealing she was pregnant during her successful Australian Open campaign last January, where she defeated sister Venus in the women's singles final.
World No 7 Ostapenko ultimately came out on top, winning 6-2 3-6 10-5, but Williams looked in good shape, although she has not yet decided whether she will defend her Australia Open title next month.
It is a surprise to see the American back in action so quickly, but she definitely has her eyes on a 24th Grand Slam trophy in Melbourne, but made a decision to compete in Abu Dhabi for her comeback, "I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter in September".
Serena Williams was "excited to be back" after completing her first match since giving birth fourth months ago.
Having shaken off some cobwebs, Williams then asserted herself, breaking four times to take the second set, with the highlight a crunching forehand return victor off Ostapenko's first serve that kissed the line and left her opponent helpless. "I am going to assess everything with Patrick [Mouratoglou, her coach] and my team".
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The Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam tournament, begins January 15.
'It's good to be back on court. first matches back are super, incredibly hard especially after having a baby'. "So, in my eyes, I feel it was a wonderful, wonderful match for me".
She started well, breaking Ostapenko's serve in the first game of the match. "I know that when I come back I definitely want to be competing for championships", she said, refusing to commit yet to the Australian Open, which starts in a little over two weeks.
It could be the flawless test event for Williams, especially after her opponent was revealed to be Jelena Ostapenko, the current world number seven.
Williams struggled with her serve in the second set too but went ahead 3-0 with a couple of early breaks as she started to hit more confident shots, including several crowd-pleasing double-handed passing shots. "I have nothing to lose and I will just enjoy the match".
"I knew I was not going to fall over and break". It's my first time playing in Abu Dhabi so thank you guys for the support.