MELBOURNE, Australia – Serena Williams begins the 2020 season undefeated at 5-0.
She won a tuneup event in Auckland, NZ defeating Camila Giorgi, Christina McHale, Laura Siegemund, Amanda Anisimova and Jessica Pegula in the final.
Siegemund was the only player to take a set from her. And she also got to the doubles final with her good pal Caroline Wozniacki.
Now, as she didn’t get the job done in four previous Grand Slam finals since her return from having daughter Olympia, and still at 23 major singles titles, will Melbourne be the place?
A year ago, not having played since the US Open final against Naomi Osaka, Williams made the quarterfinals.
She was up 5-1 in the third set against Karolina Pliskova – but then lost the set. And the match.
Australia is the home of Margaret Court, who has those 24 majors – 11 of them won here, when the fields were not what they are now.
So there might be some poetic justice if Williams could tie Court’s record on her home turf.
Williams going for history
And it’s the 50th anniversary of Court’s calendar Grand Slam in 1970. And the Australian Open has invited Court to be recognized at this year’s tournament despite her outspoken views about homosexuality.
Tennis Australia has worked hard (unsuccessfully) to separate the athlete from the woman – and her views. It hasn’t really flown.
Court won’t, however, be presenting the trophy to the women’s champion.
If does end up being Serena, that truly would have been quite the photo op.
Third round already a challenge for Williams
What does Williams think of all this?
No idea. She didn’t do any pre-tournament press.
Her first-round opponent Monday will be Russia’s Anastasia Potapova, an 18-year-old currently ranked No. 90.
The first two rounds look friendly enough.
But after that, she could face the rising star Dayana Yastremska, who is coached by Williams’s longtime former hitting partner, Sascha (Big Sascha) Bajin.
Then, it could be No. 3 seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka – or her sister Venus, or even 15-year-old Coco Gauff.
So the road to No. 24 will be a challenge.