Serena Williams returns to Australian Open in style

Published by AAP

Serena Williams plays a forehand in her first round match against Tatjana Maria on day two of the 2019 Australian Open
23-time Grand Slam champ Serena Williams was stunning in green and too hot for Tatjana Maria on her return to Melbourne Park for the first time since her 2017 victory.

Serena Williams treated herself to less than an hour on Rod Laver Arena in an emotional return to the scene of her greatest grand slam triumph on Tuesday.

In a ruthless start to her quest for a historic 24th career major, Williams cast sentiment aside to sweep past good friend, neighbour and fellow tennis mum Tatjana Maria 6-0 6-2 on Tuesday.

The match was the American superstar’s first on RLA since beating older sister Venus while pregnant in the 2017 final.

“It was nice to be back out there. Last time I was out there was a great moment, especially internally for me, it was even a better moment,” Williams said.

“It was literally the best win of my career.”

But, as much as she savoured her return, Williams didn’t want to leave 16-month-old daughter Olympia waiting much more than the 49 minutes it took to see off the German.

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“Spending a lot of time with my daughter, that’s the priority for me,” said the former world No.1.

“As a working mum, I feel guilty. And I understand that that’s normal, but these are years I’ll never get back.

“I just try to spend every moment that I can when I’m not working with her.”

Decked out in a new bottle-green fitted playsuit which she described as a “Serena-tard”, Williams was also playing her first grand slam match since last year’s US Open final meltdown.

But after being penalised for illegal coaching before losing to Naomi Osaka in New York, Williams was in no mood to discuss the prospect of on-court coaching being introduced when asked in her post-match press conference.

Nor was the 37-year-old prematurely planning celebrations for possibly matching Margaret Court’s all-time record 24 grand slam singles titles after falling a win short both at Flushing Meadows and Wimbledon in 2018.

“I have been going for the record for what seems like forever now, so it doesn’t feel any different,” Williams said.

The seven-times Open champion will resume on Thursday against Eugenie Bouchard after the Canadian ousted Chinese wildcard Peng Shuai 6-2 6-1.

Like Williams, who won all three of her matches at the Hopman Cup, world No.8 Karolina Pliskova continued her unbeaten start to 2019 with a 6-3 6-2 victory over fellow Czech Karolina Muchova.

The Brisbane International champion and 2016 US Open runner-up earned a second-round meeting with American Madison Brengle, a 6-4 6-0 winner over Japanese qualifier Misaki Doi.

Another former Flushing Meadows finalist also progressed on Tuesday, with American 17th seed Madison Keys taking out young Australian wildcard Destanee Aiava 6-2 6-2.

Two-time major winner and former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza beat China’s Saisai Zheng 6-2 6-3.

Belgian 12th seed Elise Mertens and Latvian No.13 seed Anastasija Sevastova also won.

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