As the 2016 Australian Open serve-off this weekend, Serena William will have the opportunity to increase her Grand Slam haul from 21 to 22 equaling all time record holder, Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22 majors, and three away from Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24.
Things didn’t quite work out for her at the 2015 US Open, she was outdone by inspired Italian Roberta Vinci in the semifinals – but in a matter of days Serena’s getting right back to it, as the 2016 Australian Open gets underway at Melbourne Park. And it’s a tournament she’s displayed some of her best tennis at, winning six titles in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and, exactly 50 weeks ago, 2015.
And the deeper she gets in the tournament, the more dangerous she gets – the World No.1 has never lost a semifinal or final at the Happy Slam, going 6-0 in both those rounds in her illustrious career.
But like so many other top players lately, she’s been bitten by the injury bug – after missing the post-US Open season last year to rest and recover, Serena’s Aussie Open lead-up season was limited to just half a match at the Hopman Cup exhibition event, as she retired due to knee inflammation.
“I just have some inflammation that’s been going away really slowly,” she said. “It’s going away, but it just needs a little more time. I’ve been really training really hard in the off-season, and I’m really pushing myself beyond the limits, so, yeah, I just think a day off or two will make a world of difference.”
Watch the full interview from Serena’s post-match press conference at the Hopman Cup right here:
If these last two weeks have given Serena the kind of recovery she was looking for, she’s got to be a big favorite to win a seventh Australian Open title this year – and another all-time great agrees.
“If she’s healthy, it’s going to be really tough to beat her again,” Roger Federer, speaking from the Brisbane International, commented. “I think she’s in a similar situation like Novak Djokovic, where if they’re both very healthy, it’s going to be tough for many, many players to win against them. They’ve set the bar very high. Serena even more so because she’s been doing it for a long time.
“I hope she’s going to be healthy now coming to the Australian Open this year.”
Simona Halep – who will be the No.2 seed Down Under – was asked about Serena in Sydney.
“It’s never easy to face Serena. She’s the best player in the world,” Halep said. “I have to believe I can win. I beat her once in my life, in Singapore, and I have great memories from that match. That day I felt I had everything to beat her. If I believe when I play her, it’ll be okay – if not, I have no chance.
“But to meet her at the Australian Open I have to make finals, so first I’ll see if I can do that.”
And because why not, here’s early footage of Serena learning the sport, courtesy of CNN Open Court

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