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Even the Parisian stormclouds cleared for Serena Williams on Tuesday, as the new mother's baby steps back to Grand Slam tennis became a stride into the second round of the French Open.

There was a little rust to shake off on her return but all the same Serena was too strong, and too good, for her world 70-ranked opponent to set up a meeting with Australia's Ashleigh Barty in the next round.

The 36-year-old American hadn't competed at a Grand Slam tournament since the Australian Open in January 2017, when she earned her 23rd major championship while pregnant.

Williams owns 23 Grand Slam singles titles.

"I don't know how many aces there were", Williams smiled courtside after the match.

- Serena carves out first and only break point of the set but can not convert, sending the opener into a tiebreak.

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The first glimpse of Williams as she prepared for her comeback came in an exhibition in December against 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

"I think if there is any way to turn that match around, it's that way", she said.

The only consolation for Pliskova, the twin sister of world number six Karolina, was finishing with 15 aces, the most hit against Williams since such records began to be kept in 2008.

It was Sharapova's first win at the French Open since 2015 after she served a drug ban in 2016 and was not granted a wild card past year. She was given a tough challenge by Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp, but Sharapova eventually prevailed 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

However, it was Williams who made the fewer errors and claimed the most important break to take a 4-3 lead before she sealed victory in the 10th game. Garcia, who celebrated her 28th major match win, will face Shuai Peng who beat 6-3 6-4 Aleksandra Krunic in her first WTA victory of the season.

Cilic, a runner-up at the Australian Open earlier this year, led 6-3, 5-4 when their first-round match was stopped.