Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
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Serena's legacy secure despite infamous US Open umpire row: Evert

Serena's legacy secure despite infamous US Open umpire row: Evert

Her 2017 triumph Down Under gave Williams the outright open era record for singles majors ahead of Steffi Graf's 22, leaving only Court's tally of 24 titles - 13 of which were earned in the amateur era before 1968 - for Williams to chase.

Serena Williams already has won seven Australian Open singles titles, and is a strong contender to add another after skipping last year's tournament while on leave after having a baby.

Will Serena Williams make a triumphant return to the scene of her last Grand Slam win, can Caroline Wozniacki defend her crown or is Naomi Osaka capable of back-to-back majors? Williams is also playing in her first Australian Open since winning it in 2017.

"When you have a target on your back it's not easy because everyone wants to play their best against you and beat you", she said. Regarding the controversial final against Osaka at Flushing Meadows - when she raged against umpire Carlos Ramos who imposed three code violations, the final one resulting in the loss of a game - Williams said she had put it put behind her and meant to "move on to bigger and better things".

The Scot will not be seeded in Thursday's draw (from 07:00 GMT) for the opening Grand Slam of the year and so could face a top-ranked player in the first round.


Osaka suffered a straight set loss to Lesia Tsurenko in the semi-final of the Brisbane International and withdrew from the Sydney International in frustration. "I feel like a year ago I did a lot of that", she said. "I think keeping them a bit of a secret helps me do the best I can". While she is the leading light for the next generation, the world number four´s status as second favourite points to a lack of serious rivals for Williams among the more established players. Andy Murray is primed for a comeback while Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are looking for their seventh Australian Open titles.

The 28-year-old Dane insists she can manage the debilitating auto-immune condition, which sometimes leaves her so exhausted she cannot raise her arms above her head. Among those looking to halt Serena's charge: world number one Simona Halep, defending champion Caroline Wozniacki and US Open victor Naomi Osaka.

The 37-year-old, seeded third, is bidding to extend his all-time leading men's Grand Slam record to 21 title and would capture a 100th ATP tournament win in the process.

The Wimbledon champion and world number two will turn 31 on January 18 and is tipped to unveil a more aggressive approach under new coach Rainer Schuttler, who reached the Australian Open final in 2003 where he lost to Andre Agassi.

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