Serena Williams temporarily overcame a major scare and managed to overwhelm Edina Gallovits-Hall 6-0, 6-0 in the first round.
Williams, who has come into the tournament as substantial favourite after winning six of the last events she has entered, badly twisted her right ankle when running wide for a forehand in the fifth game of the first set. But after lying on the ground for a good two minutes, Williams was able to get up, limp back to the chair and have her ankle rewrapped.
“I think I was really, really close to panicking because a very similar thing happened to me last year, almost on the same side, the same shot," Williams said, recalling an injury she suffered in at the Australian Open warm-up tournament in Brisbane. “So I almost panicked, and I thought, I can't do that. I just have to really remain calm and think things through.”
While she did not move well after her spill, she understood the task at hand and keenly focused the rest of the match, serving huge, ripping winners off the ground and attacking the 10th ranked Romanian’s serves.
"At that point I think I really started to focused,” Serena said. “For me, when I was injured, I just thought, ‘Just relax. Have nothing to lose at that point, so I just started swinging freely.”
For the most part, Williams stood in the middle of the court and dared Gallovits-Hall to hit the corners, which the Romanian was unable to do. Williams then took control of the points and completely overpowered her foe.
Williams won the match when she hit a high hopping kick serve that Gallovits-Hall couldn't handle. Serena finished the match with 18 winners to only one from her foe and won 52 of the match’s 72 points.
She’d rather not think about being hurt, because she knows deep down that she has won the Australian Open in trying condition before.
“I know one year I won this tournament and had two bone bruises in both knees,” she said. “I had no idea. I just knew I was in pain. I think sometimes what you don't know cannot hurt you.”
Great form or not, her Australian Open campaign has became much more complicated.
However, Williams said that even if she has to crawl on court, she will be there for her second round contest.
“Oh, I'll be out there,” she said. “I mean, unless something fatal happens to me, there's no way I'm not going to be competing. I'm alive. My heart's beating. I'll be fine.”