A focused Serena Williams sent an ominous Australian Open warning with a 49-minute first-round demolition Tuesday as world number one Novak Djokovic destroyed his opponent as he targets a record seventh title.
The American giant is bidding to match Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam crowns on her first return to Melbourne Park since winning in 2017 while eight weeks pregnant.
Now 37, she kept a low profile in the lead-up to the opening major of the year and came out of the blocks flying against fellow mum Tatjana Maria, pummelling her German opponent 6-0, 6-2.
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Sporting a striking jade green jumpsuit and fine mesh stockings on Rod Laver Arena, the 16th seed wasted no time in getting out of the blistering Melbourne heat and said it was good to be back.
“The last time I was here I was pregnant and playing at the same time which is insane,” she said. “It’s weird walking back on — by myself this time — it feels good. I have so many memories from last time I was here.”
Bidding for an eighth Melbourne Park crown, few are betting against Williams despite her lowly seeding and she next faces Canadian Eugenie Bouchard who eased past China’s Peng Shuai.
Williams played at the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth this month, but her appearance on Tuesday was her first outing on tour since a meltdown in losing the US Open final to Naomi Osaka in September.
Japan’s Osaka, seeded four, begins her campaign in the night match on Rod Laver Arena against Poland’s Magda Linette.
First Published: Jan 15, 2019 17:42 IST
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