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Serena Williams rolls at Australian Open, her best start in 5 years

Serena Williams

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 10: Serena Williams of The United States of America plays a backhand in her Women’s Singles second round match against against Nina Stojanovic of Serbia during day three of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 10, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

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Serena Williams is into the Australian Open third round having lost just five games, her most efficient first two rounds of a Grand Slam in five years.

Williams, wearing a Florence Griffith Joyner-inspired outfit and eyeing a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, dispatched 99th-ranked Serbian Nina Stojanović 6-3, 6-0 on Wednesday.

She next gets Anastasia Potapova, a 19-year-old Russian whom she beat 6-0, 6-3 in the first round of last year’s Australian Open.


Williams, the 10th seed, conceded her fewest games in the first two rounds of a major since the 2016 French Open, when she also dropped a handful.

She put to rest any concern about an Achilles problem that forced her to withdraw before her second-round match at the 2020 French Open on Sept. 30.

Williams said before the Australian Open that, had the tournament been held on its usual dates three weeks earlier, she probably would not have played due to the injury.

Instead, the 39-year-old’s pursuit of Margaret Court‘s Slams record is the primary storyline, even if she isn’t the favorite.

“I think I’ve had a ton of pressure,” Williams said on ESPN after her first-round win, alluding to her 10 previous post-childbirth majors, where her best finishes have been four runners-up. “Now I don’t feel it anymore. It’s just like a huge relief. ... I think I was just looking at it all the wrong way in the past.

“Honestly, going through 2020 was such a tough year for everyone worldwide. I feel like you can only look at things differently and positively because life is so precious and so short. I get to do this, and I’m so happy that I’m still out here with the opportunity to play tennis.”

Earlier, 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu was knocked out of her first tournament in 15 months after a long injury layoff. Crafty 35-year-old Hsieh Su-wei swept the powerful Canadian 6-3, 6-2, advancing to possibly play 40-year-old Venus Williams.

Venus plays later Wednesday, as do Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem.

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