Serena Williams played her 100th match at the Australian Open
Serena Williams started her last offer for a record-breaking 24th Grand Slam with a 56-minute demolition of Laura Siegemund at the Australian Open.
The 39-year-old American said it was “Vintage Serena” when she beat the German 6-1 and 6-1 in front of a small, exposed crowd in the Rod Laver Arena.
The US Open champion Naomi Osaka also started convincingly with a 6-1 win against the Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Former Master Angelique Kerber, however, was the first seed to be planted.
The German 23rd seed, one of 72 players who had spent 14 days in “hard” quarantine before the tournament – limited to a hotel room and unable to train outside – was won 6-0 by the American Bernarda Pera: 6: 4 beaten.
Kerber, a three-time Grand Slam champion, said the quarantine had affected her form for the major.
“You can feel it, especially when you’re playing a real game where it matters and you play against an opponent who isn’t in tough lockdown,” she said.
The American Alison Riske, who also completed the tough quarantine, lost 6: 2: 6: 1 against the Russian number 101 Anastasia Potapova.
French Open champions Iga Swiatek With a 6: 1: 6: 3 win against Arantxa Rus from the Netherlands, the US Open quarter-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova from Bulgaria went into the second round with 7: 5: 6: 2 against the Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei.
Hseih will play Canada next Bianca Andreescuwho beat Mihaela Buzarnescu 6: 2, 4: 6, 6: 3 in her first game in 15 months.
The 2019 US Open champion hadn’t played for 467 days after battling a knee injury.
“I’ve been through quite a lot in those 15 months. It wasn’t easy,” she said.
Second seed Simona Halep With a 6: 2: 6: 1 win against the Australian wildcard Lizette Cabrera in just 59 minutes, the second round started.
Czech Petra KvitovaThe runner-up from Osaka in 2019 beat Greet Minnen from Belgium 6: 3: 6: 4.
Serena channels Flo-Jo with a quick win
Williams made a nervous start against Siegemund, making a double fault on the first point of the game before losing her opening game.
The American, who pulled out of the Yarra Valley Classic semifinals last week with a shoulder problem, didn’t take long to find her stand.
She scored 16 winners and four aces against Siegemund in 51st place and prepared a meeting in the second round with the Serbian Nina Stojanovic.
Williams wore a one-legged black, pink, and red catsuit that she later said was a tribute to the later days American athletics icon Florence Griffith-Joyner.
“I was inspired by Flo-Jo, who was a wonderful athlete, a great athlete, growing up,” said Williams.
“She looked at her fashion, just kept changing and her outfits were always fantastic.”
Williams is accompanied in the second round by Osaka and her 40-year-old sister Venuswho defeated the Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 7: 5: 6: 2.
Osaka will play against France Caroline Garcia next, while the older Williams sister faces veterans Sara Errani.
No line judge in quiet Melbourne Park
Melbourne Park has limited visitor numbers
There is only a limited number of spectators at this year’s Australian Open. Victoria’s health officer allows 25,000 to 30,000 fans to enter Melbourne Park every day.
The booths looked sparse, and fans were spread out according to socially distant seating plans.
Melbourne had a 112-day lockdown in October to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Bars, restaurants and shops have gradually reopened since then, and locals have been concerned about the risks of hosting an event with so many international players in Australia during the pandemic.
At the Australian Open, there are no linesmen trying to keep the tournament biologically safe. Ball tracking cameras are used instead.
Voices evoke real-time decisions, with records being made by Australian health workers, firefighters and other emergency services personnel as a tribute to their work.
“I have a feeling that if you want to continue like this, I actually have no complaints about it because I think there are many arguments that will not happen because of this technology,” Osaka said of the decision.