Serena Williams
Serena Williams was enjoying her one centesimal match on the Australian Open

Serena Williams launched her newest bid for a record-equalling twenty fourth Grand Slam with a 56-minute demolition of Laura Siegemund on the Australian Open.

The American, 39, mentioned it was “classic Serena” as she thrashed the German 6-1 6-1 in entrance of a small, unmasked crowd on Rod Laver Area.

US Open champion Naomi Osaka additionally made a convincing begin with a 6-1 6-2 win over Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

However former champion Angelique Kerber was the primary seed to be knocked out.

The German twenty third seed, who was one among 72 gamers to spend 14 days in ‘laborious’ quarantine earlier than the match – confined to a lodge room and unable to coach outdoors – was overwhelmed 6-0 6-4 by American Bernarda Pera.

Each Williams and Osaka had withdrawn from warm-up occasions final week with shoulder points however neither confirmed any signal of harm as they made swift progress to the second spherical, the place they will even be joined by Williams’ 40-year-old sister Venus, who beat Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 7-5 6-2.

Osaka will play France’s Caroline Garcia subsequent, whereas the elder Williams sister faces veteran Sara Errani.

French Open champion Iga Swiatek raced into the second spherical with a 6-1 6-3 win over Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, however US Open quarter-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria misplaced 7-5 6-2 to Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei.

Serena channels Flo-Jo in speedy win

Williams made a nervy begin in opposition to Siegemund, double-faulting on the primary level of the match earlier than dropping her opening service recreation.

Nevertheless the American, who withdrew from final week’s Yarra Valley Traditional semi-final with a shoulder downside, didn’t take lengthy to search out her footing.

She hit 16 winners and 4 aces in opposition to 51st-ranked Siegemund, organising a second-round assembly with Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic.

Williams wore a one-legged, black, pink and purple catsuit, which she later mentioned was a tribute to late American track and field icon Florence Griffith-Joyner.

“I used to be impressed by Flo-Jo, who was a beautiful monitor athlete, wonderful athlete once I was rising up,” Williams mentioned.

“Watching her vogue, simply at all times altering, her outfits had been at all times wonderful.”

No line judges at quiet Melbourne Park

Spectators watch Ons Jabeur and Andrea Petkovic at Melbourne Park
Restricted crowd numbers are allowed at Melbourne Park

There are restricted crowd numbers at this yr’s Australian Open, with Victoria’s well being officer giving permission for 25,000-30,000 followers to enter Melbourne Park every day.

The stands seemed sparse, with followers spaced out in response to socially distant seating plans.

Melbourne had a 112-day lockdown in October to stop the unfold of Covid-19, with bars, eating places and retailers step by step reopening since then, and there had been concern amongst locals concerning the dangers of internet hosting an occasion with so many worldwide gamers flying into Australia throughout the pandemic.

There are not any line judges on the Australian Open in an try and hold the match bio-secure, with ball-tracking cameras used as an alternative.

Voices name out choices in real-time, with recordings made by Australia’s well being staff, firefighters and different emergency companies personnel as a tribute to their work.

“I really feel like in the event that they do need to proceed this manner, I truly haven’t any complaints about it as a result of I believe that there is quite a lot of arguments that are not going to occur due to this expertise,” Osaka mentioned of the choice.

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