Serena Williams Shrugs Off Injury; Wins Australian Open First-Round Match In Straight Sets

Defending champion and No. 1 seed Serena Williams has won her opening-round match at the 2016 Australian Open -on Monday, defeating Camilia Giorgi 6-4, 7-5 on Rod Laver Court in Melbourne.

Williams is coming off one of the most dominant years in recent memory, winning three Grand Slam tournaments and finishing 2015 at 53-3. Her only loss in a Grand Slam tournament last year came in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, snapping her string of four straight Grand Slam wins, preventing the only calendar-year slam since Steffi Graf in 1988.

Graf is in Williams’ sights again in Australia, with the world No. 1 player owning 21 career Grand Slam singles titles, one fewer than Graf for the most in the Open Era. Williams has won the Australian Open siix times in her career.

On Monday in Melbourne, Williams was broken once by Giorgi in the first set, but Williams returned the favor with two breaks of her own to capture the opening salvo. Both women stayed on serve in the second set until the 11th game, when Williams won her third break of the match for a 6-5 set advantage.

The 24-year-old Italian Giorgi was the highest-ranked unseeded player in the women’s draw. She was done in by 12 double faults, compared to just two for Williams.

This was the first completed match for Williams since the U.S. Open in September. She withdrew from the China Open and WTA Finals in October 2015 because of injury, then retired from her first-round match in the Hopman Cup in January with left knee inflammation.

Williams advances to the second round on Wednesday, when she will play the winner of Monday’s match Jelena Ostapenko and Su-Wei Hsieh match.

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