MELBOURNE — Serena Williams appears to be a woman on a mission at this Australian Open, which could be a good thing in her quest to earn a 24th Grand Slam title.
Among the 37-year-old’s lofty goals is winning an eighth Australian Open title and to score the Grand Slam trophy that would tie her with record-holder Margaret Court.
Making her first appearance at the Down Under Grand Slam since she won the title while in her first trimester of pregnancy in 2017, Williams flew past fellow mom, Tatjana Maria of Germany, 6-0, 6-2 in 49 minutes. The two are friends and neighbors in their Palm Beach Gardens, Florida neighborhood.
“I think the last time I was here I was actually pregnant and playing at the same time, which is insane,” Williams told the crowd. “It feels good walking back on this court, by myself this time.
“That was one of the best matches of my career.”
The 16th-seeded Williams, who’s already won 10 majors since turning 30, captured the first set in 18 minutes and the second in 31 minutes. She’ll play Eugenie Bouchard or wild-card entry Peng Shuai in the second round.
Williams is one of four moms competing at this year’s Australian, along with Maria, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Evgeniya Rodina of Russia.
Williams, wearing a bright green, form-fitting shorts jumpsuit, offered the 74th-ranked Maria little room to insert herself into the match.
The German didn’t hold a game point until the fourth game of the second set, which was the first game she held serve in the match. She held serve the next time she served as well, but the effort was too little, too late.
This is only the fourth Grand Slam tournament Williams has played since giving birth to daughter, Alexis Olympia, in September 2017. She withdrew from a fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova at last year’s French Open, then followed with final appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open.
The US Open final was marred by controversy as she repeatedly had words with umpire Carlos Ramos throughout the loss to first-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka. That was the last time she played an official match until she stepped on court to face Maria on Tuesday.
Williams has lost a Grand Slam first-round match only once in her career, at the 2012 French Open. It was that disturbing defeat that led Williams to begin to train with well-known coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who remains her tennis guru nearly seven years later.