Petra Kvitova made a surprise second-round exit at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The Czech ninth seed and two-time Wimbledon champion fell to Sorana Cirstea 6-4 1-6 6-1 on a warm day at Melbourne Park.

Runner-up in 2019 and a quarter-finalist last year, Kvitova bowed out after a costly 44 unforced errors in two hours, three minutes.

Cirstea, meanwhile, reached the third round of the Australian Open for just the fourth time.

It marked the Romanian's first win over a top-10 player since 2017, when she beat Karolina Pliskova in Beijing.

Cirstea will face another Czech, 19th seed Marketa Vondrousova, in the third round.

Kvitova is among 10 seeds to have departed in the women's draw, joining Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber, Bianca Andreescu, Petra Martic, Johanna Konta, Maria Sakkari, Wang Qiang, Zhang Shuai and Alison Riske.

Serena Williams booked her spot in the Australian Open third round with a straight-sets win over Nina Stojanovic on Wednesday.

Williams again looked in fine form on her way to a 6-3 6-0 victory over Stojanovic in warm conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

The American star is bidding to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam singles titles and is on track after her win in one hour, nine minutes.

As her serve gradually improved, Williams – who is dealing with a right shoulder injury – was in control for the most part to set up a third-round clash against Anastasia Potapova.

Stojanovic held her own early, but Williams broke for 3-1, a powerful forehand setting up break point before a backhand error from the Serbian.

Williams was struggling with her first serve – she had a first-serve percentage of just 52 in the first set – but dug herself out of a 15-40 hole to hold for 5-2 on her way to taking the opening set.

A break to begin the second set followed as Stojanovic powered a forehand down the line wide, and three consecutive backhand errors saw her cough up another break to fall 3-0 behind.

Williams took complete control from then on, finishing the second set without an unforced error and losing just nine points to quickly wrap up victory.

 

Data Slam: Williams' second-round dominance continues
Williams improved her record in the second round of majors to 73-2. It also stands at 19-1 at the Australian Open, where she last failed to reach the third round on her debut main-draw appearance in 1998.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 27/11
Stojanovic – 15/18

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 6/1
Stojanovic – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 4/9
Stojanovic – 0/3

Bianca Andreescu's comeback bid came to a surprise end in the second round of the Australian Open, where the eighth seed was ousted by Hsieh Su-wei.

Andreescu was playing her first tournament since the WTA Finals in Shenzhen at the end of 2019 – a knee injury and fitness issues derailing the Canadian star after her breakthrough at the US Open almost two years ago.

The 20-year-old's stay in Melbourne did not extend beyond round two, however, as Hsieh stunned the three-time WTA Tour champion 6-3 6-2.

Andreescu struggled in Wednesday's first match on Rod Laver Arena – tallying 25 unforced errors in a forgettable one hour, 23-minute display in sunny conditions at Melbourne Park.

The loss to world number 71 Hsieh condemned Andreescu to her worst defeat since falling to Catherine McNally (628) at the 2018 ITF/$25k Lawrence-KA USA.

Taiwanese veteran Hsieh, 35, has now upset eight seeds in her career at grand slams.

A "calmer" Garbine Muguruza made a fine start at the Australian Open, while defending champion Sofia Kenin was left annoyed despite her victory.

A finalist at the Yarra Valley Classic last week, Muguruza's good form in Melbourne continued with a rampant 6-4 6-0 victory over Margarita Gasparyan in the first round on Tuesday.

Muguruza was runner-up at Melbourne Park last year, with the two-time grand slam winner looking for her first major success since 2017.

The Spanish star, who will face Ludmilla Samsonova in the second round, said she was reaping the benefits of a changed approach.

"I was for sure working very hard, and frustrated that the results weren't there for quite a few months. Sometimes you work hard, you want it so much, that doesn't help you," Muguruza said.

"It's hard to explain, but I felt like for a moment I was working hard, I was putting all the effort out there. The time that I had to go and compete, I wanted it too much. I was getting frustrated too early. At the end I couldn't let the racquet talk.

"I feel like now, after that experience, I managed to stay a little bit calmer and to just go and compete, probably have less expectations. I'm always, like, there and always so pumped. I'm just knowing myself a little bit better now, finding ways to compete and not let that energy and that desire, too much desire, get in the way probably."

It was a relatively good day for the top women's seeds, with Kenin – who conquered Muguruza in last year's final – winning through.

Ash Barty, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova and Belinda Bencic also advanced, while Victoria Azarenka's poor recent record in Melbourne continued.

KENIN ANNOYED DESPITE WIN

Kenin started her title defence with a 7-5 6-4 victory over Australian Maddison Inglis.

But while the American fourth seed mixed 23 winners with 27 unforced errors, Kenin said she felt her nerves as she defends a major crown for the first time.

"I was obviously quite annoyed the whole match. I felt like the first two points I started off well, then wasn't able to close out the first game. Obviously nerves happen," she said.

"She obviously played really well. She's a tricky opponent, tricky player. Yeah, it was quite hard on myself today, quite annoyed, as you said."

Kenin's next clash is a tough encounter against Kaia Kanepi, who brushed past Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-1.

BARTY, SVITOLINA AND PLISKOVA AMONG WINNERS

Barty made a spectacular start with a 6-0 6-0 thrashing of Danka Kovinic.

The world number one won the first 16 points and ended up losing just 10 for the match in an impressive start.

A two-time quarter-finalist at the Australian Open, Svitolina was tested but overcame Marie Bouzkova 6-3 7-6 (7-5) on Rod Laver Arena.

A huge challenge awaits Svitolina, who will next face Coco Gauff after the 16-year-old American beat Jil Teichmann 6-3 6-2.

Czech sixth seed Pliskova made quick work of Jasmine Paolini, wrapping up a 6-0 6-2 victory in just 47 minutes.

Bencic and Anett Kontaveit were among the other seeded winners.

NO EXCUSES FOR AZARENKA

A two-time Australian Open champion, Azarenka suffered a surprise 7-5 6-4 loss to Jessica Pegula in the first round.

The Belarusian's last win at the event came in 2016, having made first-round exits in 2019 and 2021 and missed the tournament in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

Azarenka was among the players forced to quarantine ahead of the major and while she said it played a part in her exit, she offered no excuses.

"Of course, it has impacted. Somebody who's coming out of hard quarantine and maybe has been able to adjust well, they'll go, 'Oh, maybe it hasn't impacted'. Somebody who lost early will say, 'Yeah, of course, it's impacted'. It would be hard to say," she said.

"Was that the best preparation for me? No. But try to sit here and find an excuse because of quarantine and this is just something that, as I said, it is what it is.

"I am disappointed that I wasn't able to perform that I knew I could. That's a bit hard to accept today because I knew I can play better, a lot better. At the same time I feel that I've tried everything I can to be able to be prepared, but unfortunately that hasn't worked out for me."

Greek 20th seed Maria Sakkari also bowed out after a loss to Kristina Mladenovic, while British 13th seed Johanna Konta retired injured while leading Kaja Juvan 6-4 0-2.

Ash Barty made an impressive start to the Australian Open, thrashing Danka Kovinic in the first round on Tuesday.

Barty, who last year became the first Australian woman to reach the semi-finals of the tournament since Wendy Turnbull in 1984, hammered Kovinic 6-0 6-0 on Rod Laver Arena.

Winner of last week's Yarra Valley Classic, Barty won the first 16 points against Kovinic and never looked back.

The world number one wrapped up victory in just 44 minutes, finishing the contest having lost only 10 points.

Kovinic's unforced errors piled up early – the Montenegrin made 14 in the first set – as 2019 French Open champion Barty quickly took control and the opener.

There was a very brief test for Barty to begin the second set, but the Australian was untroubled as Kovinic had no answers.

Barty will meet either Daria Gavrilova or Sara Sorribes Tormo in the second round.

 

Data Slam: Barty blitz sets up win
Barty made an incredible start, racing into a 4-0 lead without dropping a point. Her hopes of a golden set were ended when she sent a backhand long, but the start put her in immediate control.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Barty – 10/5
Kovinic – 3/28

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Barty – 5/0
Kovinic – 2/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Barty – 6/8
Kovinic – 0/0

Naomi Osaka said she was "really nervous" before facing Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova but showed no signs of that as she breezed into the second round of the Australian Open.

Osaka looked dominant on day one of the first grand slam of the year as she welcomed being able to play in front of a crowd at Melbourne Park, taking only 68 minutes to wrap up a 6-1 6-2 victory.

The US Open champion has beaten Pavlyuchenkova three times in a row after losing when they first met in 2017 but was wary of facing the Russian on Rod Laver Arena.

Third seed Osaka said: "I was really nervous coming into this match. I know that I've played her before, and it was really tough. I just wanted to play well.

"The most recent memory I have of playing her was in the Osaka final [that Osaka won 6-2 6-3 in 2019], so it's always really hard to play someone that good in the first round.

"For me, I feel like it might have also helped in a way because I calmed my nerves because I felt like I couldn't afford to be that nervous. But, yeah, it was a tough match."

Serena Williams and Simona Halep stormed into round two, but the 2016 champion Angelique Kerber crashed out with a 6-0 6-4 defeat to world number 63 Bernarda Pera.

Alison Riske and Wang Qiang were the only other seeds to fall, losing to teenager Anastasia Potapova and qualifier Sara Errani respectively, while Bianca Andreescu made a winning comeback.

 

Williams sisters among major winners to make serene progress

Serena Williams did not look at all troubled by a shoulder problem as she started her latest quest to win a record-equalling 24th major singles title with a 6-1 6-1 demolition of Laura Siegemund.

Her older sister, Venus, also advanced in straight sets, beating Kirsten Flipkens 7-5 6-2.

Iga Swiatek, the French Open champion, was too good for Arantxa Rus, winning 6-1 6-3, and Petra Kvitova got past Greet Minnen 6-3 6-4.

Kerber will not be claiming a fourth major crown this month after falling to Croatia-born American Pera.

 

Halep planning to oust another Australian

Two-time major winner Halep was a cut above Lizette Cabrera, winning 6-2 6-1 in 59 minutes, and is looking forward to facing another Australia in the second round in the form of Ajla Tomljanovic. 

"I like to be here, so I like to play Australians," Halep quipped.

"I feel good. My body is fit. It's always difficult to play a big hitter. So, I have to be strong on my legs, focus on myself and give my best.

"I expected a tough match because I played against her before and I know how it's gonna be. She's a good opponent, a good player, and I will focus just on myself like I do every time, but I'm ready for a good battle."

Andreescu back in business

Andreescu put her injury woes behind her, battling past Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-2 4-6 6-3 in her first match for 15 months.

The Canadian had not played in a grand slam since winning the US Open in 2019 but was back in business on John Cain Arena.

Eighth seed Andreescu said: "After the match, I sat down with my team a little bit, and I'm like, 'Oh, guys, here we go again, those three-setters' and they just started laughing because they obviously knew what they were getting themselves into.

"But those matches are super good for me in my opinion because it really shows that I can scramble when I really need to, or if there's some pressure I can dig my way through it somehow. When my back is against the wall, not only today, but I've noticed throughout my last couple tournaments in 2019, I've been able to pull through with those."

Serena Williams will win a 24th grand slam singles title despite the mental pressure of trying to match the record having held her back, Ana Ivanovic says.

American Williams breezed into the second round of the Australian Open on Monday with a 6-1 6-1 victory over Laura Siegemund.

She won her 23rd major singles title in Melbourne in 2017, taking her to within one of matching the all-time record held by Margaret Court.

However, she has failed to win any of the following 14 slams, marking the longest span in her professional career without lifting any of the four biggest trophies.

Williams has won 22 of her majors over the last two decades, at least 15 more than any other women's player in that time, but her most recent four slam finals have ended in defeat.

Ivanovic, the former world number one who reached the final in Melbourne in 2008, wonders if the significance of matching Court's tally may have added extra pressure on Williams.

However, she remains convinced the 39-year-old will claim another title, telling Stats Perform News: "Yeah, definitely after winning so many grand slams, you still have it and especially [as] she reached so many finals, even though she didn't win a title.

"So, I think it's just a matter of, she proved that she can win matches and she can get a part in the grand slams.

"I think she wants to go further for the record. So I think that's maybe a bigger issue than just winning a title. So, it's both a little bit, I guess mental as well. But I'm sure she can do that. And I'm sure that's why she's there and still pushing and still being on top of the game after so many years."

"She's definitely an icon and a very, very powerful player. And I remember you know, when I played against her, she's very intimidating because her serve is just very, very strong. Her shots are very strong. So you feel like you have to attack and move forward otherwise you don't really have a chance. It was very inspiring to play against her and to play against someone who reached so much in women's sport. I think she will go [down] in history. Definitely."

Reigning champion Sofia Kenin begins her Australian Open defence against home hope Maddison Inglis on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old is hoping to become the first women's player to win successive Australian Opens since Victoria Azarenka back in 2013.

Kenin was a finalist at the French Open last year after winning in Melbourne, having failed even to reach the last eight in her first 11 majors, but she was beaten in straight sets by Garbine Muguruza in the quarter-finals of the Yarra Valley Classic warm-up tournament.

"She seemed very, very solid and very consistent lately, so of course she has a big chance but, like I said, it's so difficult to talk because you don't see the players playing, you don't see what kind of form they're on and how the last months have been for them," said Ivanovic.

"And you know, without competition for so long again, it definitely is going to [have an] affect but she can indeed [win]. One Australian Open and then she went on to the French Open final, so she's definitely been very, very consistent and she's going to I think try to go again.

"I think that's why it's very hard to predict who will be the winner of a grand slam, especially on the women's side. But on the other hand, it's nice to see new faces and new players coming up, and it also brings new excitement to the tour."

Ivanovic also tipped French Open champion Iga Swiatek to challenge in the latter stages, adding: "I do like Iga Swiatek and the way she plays. I like her aggressive game. I like the fact that she runs around and hits her forehead, it was kind of the style that I had. So I really hope she can keep up the work that she did last year and continue to do well."

Serena Williams took inspiration from the "unbelievable" Tom Brady as she cruised into the second round of the Australian Open with a "vintage" performance.

Brady made yet more history on Sunday, the most successful player in NFL history winning a seventh Super Bowl as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9.

The incredible Brady, 43, showed age is no barrier, throwing three touchdown passes – two of which were scored by his long-time friend Rob Gronkowski – and completing 21 of 29 throws for 201 yards.

Brady did now allow any interceptions as he picked up the MVP award at Raymond James Stadium.

Williams started her quest for a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title with a 6-1 6-1 defeat of Laura Siegemund on Monday, then paid tribute to her fellow American Brady.

She said of his exploits: "It's unbelievable. I just was watching as much as I could to see. My only word is it's unbelievable. I kept saying: 'This is unbelievable, this is unreal'.

"You can't say it was the system he was at formerly [the New England Patriots]. It's definitely Tom Brady, he's Tom Brady. He's amazing."

Brady banished everyone from his house in the days leading up to the Super Bowl so he could fully focus on inspiring the Buccaneers to victory, but the 39-year-old Williams said she could never do the same as she would not want to be separated from her daughter, Olympia.

"I would not be able to go function without my three-year-old around," Williams said. "I think I would be in a depression.

"We've been together every day of her life, so... Is that healthy? Not at all! Not even close. But every single day I just want to be around her. It's great. Everyone's different.

"I can totally understand why he would banish because if I had the strength to do it, I would too.

"I could see it's definitely a distraction, especially every year that I've played except for the past few months, I finally am starting to get better at it. The first two and a half years was very difficult. I wasn't strong enough to do the banishment."

Williams, who will face Nina Stojanovic in the second round at Melbourne Park, was delighted with the manner in which she swept Siegemund aside and had no issues with her shoulder after withdrawing from a pre-tournament event citing an injury problem.

"This was a good start. Definitely vintage 'Rena'. It's definitely good. I think I'm pretty good at pacing myself in a grand slam," she said.

"I was happy just to get through it. Wasn't sure how my serve would be after a little bit of that shoulder, but it's feeling good, I'm feeling good. So, it felt really good.

"Last year was very crazy for the world, and to be able to do what I love and to be able to come out and compete and play at a grand slam, after the last 12 months, it makes me appreciate the moment even more."

Serena Williams' bid for a record-equalling 24th grand slam title started with a comprehensive win over Laura Siegemund at the Australian Open.

The American star was dominant on her way to a 6-1 6-1 victory over Siegemund on Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

Williams is aiming to join Margaret Court on a record 24 grand slam singles titles and she had no problems against the German in Melbourne.

She improved to 20-0 in the first round of the Australian Open, showing few signs of a shoulder injury she expects to be dealing with throughout the tournament.

Williams lost just 10 games in her previous two wins over Siegemund, but the seven-time Australian Open winner was broken in the opening game.

But Siegemund produced too many errors from then on, Williams winning in just 56 minutes to set up a clash against Nina Stojanovic.

 

Data Slam: Serena cruises after initial nerves
Williams was broken to 15 in the opening game when Siegemund produced a forehand return winner. However, she steadied, reeling off the next 10 games on her way to a comfortable win.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 16/15
Siegemund – 4/20

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 4/1
Siegemund – 0/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 6/9
Siegemund – 1/1

World number one Ash Barty ended her Australian Open preparations with a title after defeating Garbine Muguruza in the Yarra Valley Classic final.

Barty – gearing up for the year's first grand slam which gets underway in Melbourne on Monday – defeated sixth seed and 2020 Australian Open runner-up Muguruza 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 on Sunday.

Looking to add to her 2019 French Open crown, Australian star Barty claimed her ninth WTA Tour trophy and second on home soil.

"It was some of the better tennis I played throughout the whole week," Barty, who had not played in a competitive tournament since last February, told reporters in her post-match news conference.

"Garbine forced me to play at that level. It was a great final."

Barty added: "Overall it was a pretty solid performance. I'm still my harshest critic at times. That's the challenge of sport every day, is trying to get better and better."

Elsewhere in Melbourne, Elise Mertens clinched the Gippsland Trophy with a 6-4 6-1 win over Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi.

Mertens – the seventh-seeded Belgian – returned to the winner's circle following two runner-up finishes in 2020.

As for Anett Kontaveit and Ann Li, they shared the Grampians Trophy on Sunday.

The Grampians Trophy did not have a final, the WTA announced, due to time running out before the Australian Open begins. Thursday's play was cancelled as a precautionary measure after a case of coronavirus involving a worker from a hotel that had housed quarantining tennis stars.

Kontaveit outlasted fifth seed Maria Sakkari 2-6 6-3 11-9 in the first semi-final, while Li upset seventh seed Jennifer Brady 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (5-7) 10-6.

Has the time come for a former world number one to end her wait for a first grand slam title since becoming a mother?

It is a question that has been asked time and again since Serena Williams returned in 2018 following the birth of her daughter, Alexis Olympia.

The legendary American must have long since become tired of being asked whether she can match Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles triumphs, with her last success coming when she was pregnant at the 2017 Australian Open.

While the 39-year-old - beaten in four grand slam finals after coming back to the tour - will be expected to mount a challenge over the next fortnight, it could be another mother who is celebrating at Melbourne Park.

It is eight years since Victoria Azarenka claimed her second grand slam title at the Australian Open, but the 31-year-old has shown there could be more to come.

Azarenka beat Williams for the first time in a major to reach the final of the US Open last year, but she then endured the agony of losing to Naomi Osaka.

That was her first championship match at a grand slam in seven years, having given birth to her son, Leo, late in 2016 before a prolonged child custody dispute badly disrupted her career.

A resurgent Azarenka took her tally of WTA Tour singles titles to 21 by winning the Western and Southern Open last August and was named the Comeback Player of the Year for 2020, as she headed back towards the peak of her powers.

The world number 13 claimed both of her grand slam titles at the Australian Open and will face Jessie Pegula in the first round next week.

Azarenka said she is enjoying her tennis more than ever and Michael Joyce, her former coach, believes she has a great chance of making a dream start to the year.

Joyce, who also coached Pegula, told Stats Perform News: "Vika has got as good a chance as anyone in Australia. She's back at the top, where she belongs.

"She won the Western and Southern and came so close at the [US] Open. She's also had some very tough draws as she's worked her way back, so she's done incredibly well to get back where she is.

"Opponents won't want to play her. If Vika gets through a couple of rounds, she can be very dangerous. Once she gets momentum, she can be hard to stop."

The great Martina Navratilova declared after Azarenka's run to the final at Flushing Meadows that she had witnessed "a new Vika" with extra punch in her shots" and "stronger than ever before".

Azarenka's positive outlook has also been evident off the court, as she recently launched a 'Think About It' podcast series, in which she engaged in in-depth conversations with the likes of motivational guru Trevor Moawad and professional rock climber Sasha DiGiulian.

The aim of the series was for Azarenka and her audience to learn from 'power players' in a variety of industries and show the strength that can be forged from vulnerability.

Azarenka's rivals may be feeling vulnerable in Melbourne as they think about how to go about beating the Belarus-born star.

Garbine Muguruza continued her impressive form to book a meeting with Ash Barty in the Yarra Valley Classic final.

Muguruza, the Spanish sixth seed at the WTA 500 event, crushed Marketa Vondrousova 6-1 6-0 on Saturday.

The two-time grand slam champion has lost just 10 games in four matches on her way to the final.

Muguruza lost just eight points on serve against Vondrousova while converting five of 11 break points.

She will meet Barty in the final after the Australian benefited from Serena Williams' withdrawal as the 23-time grand slam winner deals with a shoulder injury.

Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka also withdrew on Saturday from the Gippsland Trophy and Grampians Trophy respectively.

At the Grampians Trophy, Anett Kontaveit was given a passage into the semi-finals, where Maria Sakkari awaits after her 6-4 6-2 win over Angelique Kerber.

Jennifer Brady and Ann Li will meet in the other semi after wins over Barbora Krejcikova and Sorana Cirstea respectively.

Elise Mertens will play the Gippsland Trophy final after Osaka's withdrawal with the Belgian to face Kaia Kanepi, who overcame Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 7-6 (8-6) to reach her first WTA decider since 2013.

Naomi Osaka said the scheduling of lead-up events was a factor in her decision to withdraw from the Gippsland Trophy on Saturday.

The three-time major champion opted to pull out of her scheduled semi-final against Elise Mertens due to a shoulder injury.

Osaka, 23, was due to play a fourth match in five days, but decided to withdraw ahead of the Australian Open starting on Monday.

"Anyone that's kind of followed me for a bit knows that I've kind of had a slight shoulder thing since like 2018 in Beijing," the Japanese star told a news conference.

"It kind of flared up again because I played a lot of matches back-to-back. But, for me, my main focus is hoping I can rest enough before the Open."

Osaka, who will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the Australian Open first round, said the time between the Gippsland Trophy and year's first major also impacted her decision.

"I would say it is a factor because for me, I don't normally play the tournament right before a slam," she said.

"But I felt like it was really necessary to get matches in. I think everyone felt that way.

"I'm kind of sad that I wasn't able to play today. But I think in the end it's the right decision."

Serena Williams admitted she would be dealing with her shoulder injury during the Australian Open, but the star is "very confident" she will be ready to go.

Williams withdrew from the Yarra Valley Classic on Friday due to a right shoulder injury.

Asked how she was feeling on Saturday, the 23-time grand slam singles champion was upbeat.

"I feel pretty good. I've gotten a lot of treatment already on my shoulder.  But I'm super confident it's going to be great," Williams told a news conference.

"I'm feeling very confident, I think is a better word, and getting ready for hopefully the next two weeks."

However, Williams said the injury would be an issue throughout the Australian Open, which begins on Monday.

"It's definitely something that I'm going to have to deal with for the fortnight. Kind of knowing that going into a tournament definitely helps," the 39-year-old said.

"Also knowing, okay, I'm going to have to probably pick up some different therapy exercises after each match, etcetera.

"It's going to be really important."

Williams' last grand slam title came in Melbourne in 2017 and all eyes will again be on the American in her bid to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 major crowns.

While that record is again on her mind, Williams – who will face Laura Siegemund in the first round – said she was now more relaxed about it.

"It's definitely on my shoulders and on my mind. I think it's good to be on my mind," she said.

"I think it's a different burden, I should say, on my shoulders because I'm used to it now. It's more relaxing I would like to say, yeah."

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