MELBOURNE – Serena Williams arrived able to race on the Australian Open.
In a colourful one-legged catsuit she stated was impressed by former Olympic champion Florence Griffith Joyner, Williams shook off a wobbly begin — opening with a double-fault and dropping her first service recreation — to comb 10 consecutive video games and beat Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-1 on the primary day of the match.
The victory marked the beginning of Williams’ newest bid for a record-tying twenty fourth main title. As she left the courtroom she flexed her biceps, and later she donned a T-shirt that learn “Unstoppable Queen.”
“Classic ’Rena,” she stated, describing her opening match and displaying no indicators of the suitable shoulder difficulty that led her to withdraw from the semifinals of a tuneup match final week.
Velocity was of the essence among the many high ladies, with No. 2-ranked Simona Halep and No. 3 Naomi Osaka every dropping solely three video games within the first spherical.
U.S. Open champion Osaka, who received the title in Melbourne two years in the past, beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-2 within the opening match on Rod Laver Area. Two-time main winner Halep, a runner-up right here in 2018, opened the night time session on the primary present courtroom with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Australian wild-card entry Lizette Cabrera.
Williams’ inspiration was clear when she began her match.
Griffith Joyner was a sprinting and style icon within the Nineteen Eighties, setting world document that also stand for the ladies’s 100- and 200-meter sprints. She died in 1998, the identical 12 months Serena Williams contested her first Australian Open.
“Yeah, I used to be impressed by Flo Jo, who was an exquisite observe athlete, superb athlete once I was rising up,” Williams stated. “Effectively, watching her style, simply all the time altering, her outfits have been all the time superb.
“This 12 months we considered what can we do to maintain elevating the Serena Williams on the courtroom.”
It is off to a flyer.
She wasn’t the primary Williams to achieve the second spherical, nevertheless. Her sister, Venus, received a Grand Slam match for the primary time since 2019.
Enjoying in her twenty first Australian Open, the elder Williams beat Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 6-2. At 40, Venus is the oldest girl on this 12 months’s draw and simply the sixth participant in her 40s to compete on the Australian Open.
“I like my job,” she stated. “It doesn’t matter what occurs to you in life, you all the time maintain your head up excessive and provides 100 million %. And that’s what I do each single day, and that’s one thing I will be happy with.”
The primary match of this 12 months’s Grand Slam season started after a three-week delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Bodily I really feel like everybody, their our bodies are shocked, coming in and enjoying so all of the sudden after such a protracted break,” Osaka stated. “I feel we’re all getting used to it and everyone seems to be simply completely happy to be right here.”
That features the Williams sisters.
“Hear, that is superb,” Serena stated. “Final 12 months was very scary for the world. To have the ability to do what I like and be capable to come out and compete . . . it makes me respect the second much more.”
For the previous 4 years, since capturing the Australian title in 2017, Serena Williams has been attempting to equal Margaret Courtroom’s document of 24 main titles.
“I’ve had a ton of strain, and now I don’t really feel it anymore,” she instructed ESPN after her first-round win. “It’s like an enormous reduction. I feel I used to be simply taking a look at it all of the fallacious approach prior to now, and I really feel completely completely different about it now.”
Two Canadians even have a distinct strategy to the game.
Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 U.S. Open champion, made a profitable return from a 15-month damage absence, serving herself out of bother within the third set to beat Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
Rebecca Marino, a former top-40 participant competing in a Grand Slam occasion for the primary time in eight years, beat wild-card entry Kimberly Birrell 6-0, 7-6 (9). Marino was sidelined by despair and a severe foot damage.
In an upset within the afternoon, No. 23 Angelique Kerber, a three-time main champion and 2016 Australian Open winner, misplaced to American Bernarda Pera 6-0, 6-4.
U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem was a break down and saved set factors earlier than beating veteran Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-3 in his first match on the match since shedding final 12 months’s last to top-ranked Novak Djokovic.
No. 6 Alexander Zverev misplaced the primary set in a tiebreaker, after saving 4 set factors, then misplaced his mood within the second and belted his racket into the courtroom. Letting off slightly steam labored for the U.S. Open finalist, who recovered to beat No. 73-ranked Marcos Giron 6-7 (8), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-2.
Additionally advancing have been No. 14 Milos Raonic, the primary man to complete the primary spherical, former champion Stan Wawrinka and Individuals Reilly Opelka, Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz.
No. 10-seeded Gael Monfils misplaced a marathon towards Emil Ruusuvuori 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 and his fellow Frenchman, No. 25 Benoit Paire, additionally was crushed within the first spherical.
As much as 30,000 followers — about 50% of capability — might be allowed on the match website, however seats have been principally empty for the early matches.
The often packed walkways between courts additionally have been comparatively devoid of followers. Sanitizer stations had changed the large misting followers that used to maintain followers cool on the grounds — not that they have been wanted on a cloudy, delicate day.
AP Sports activities Author Steven Wine contributed from Miami, Florida.
Extra AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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