Serena Williams is a three-time champion at Roland Garros, having won the 2002, 2013 and 2015 titles

Serena Williams began her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title with a hard-fought win over fellow American Kristie Ahn in the French Open first round.

Sixth seed Williams, who turned 39 on Saturday, overcame a rusty start to win 7-6 (7-3) 6-0 in Paris.

Once she came through a 74-minute opener, Williams began to play with more belief and clarity as she swept Ahn aside in a 27-minute second set.

Williams will play Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.

Pironkova, 33, was handed a wildcard by Roland Garros organisers after a memorable run to the US Open quarter-finals – where she lost to Williams – in her first tournament since 2017 after giving birth.

Pironkova set up the rematch with a 6-3 6-3 win over Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.