'Vintage 'Rena' races into round two after Siegemund demolition

  • Matt Trollope

Serena Williams produced a statement performance on Monday at Rod Laver Arena to move into the second round of Australian Open 2021.

SCOREBOARD: Serena Williams d Laura Siegemund

And it was a statement in every way possible, from the outfit she emerged onto court wearing, to her response to getting broken in the very first game, to the scoreline at the end of the 56-minute rout.

Williams, the 10th seed, dismissed Germany’s Laura Siegemund 6-1 6-1 set up a clash with Nina Stojanovic, a straight-sets winner against Irina-Camelia Begu.

"This was a good start. Definitely vintage 'Rena,” the 39-year-old American said. "It's definitely good. I think I'm pretty good at pacing myself in a Grand Slam.

“I was happy just to get through it. Wasn't sure how my serve would be after a little bit of that shoulder, but it's feeling good, I'm feeling good. So it felt really good.

"Last year was very crazy for the world, and to be able to do what I love and to be able to come out and compete and play at a Grand Slam, after the last 12 months, it makes me appreciate the moment even more."

Siegemund threatened to be a tricky opening assignment for Williams; ranked as high as 27th in August 2016, she won her biggest career title in Stuttgart the next year, defeating three top-10 opponents along the way.

She sustained a serious knee injury shortly after that zenith, which kept her off tour for almost 12 months. But she has since worked her way back inside the top 50, and is one of the game’s grittiest competitors.

The problem was, she encountered a player with an even greater competitive reputation, and was promptly put in her place.

Williams, clad in an eye-catching, multi-coloured bodysuit with legs of varying length, began slowly, winning just won point in her opening service game.
 
But after clawing her way through a tight second game by breaking back on her third opportunity, she was untouchable.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion collected the next 10 consecutive games, hitting several winners as Siegemund’s game disintegrated at the other end of the court.

After Williams had extended her second-set lead to 4-0 with a searing ace down the T, Siegemund got on the board in the next game with a cross-court backhand – just her fourth winner for the match.

But it did nothing to alter the course of the encounter; two games later, she double-faulted on match point.

Williams remains undefeated in 2021, impressive in wins over Daria Gavrilova, Tsvetana Pironkova and Danielle Collins to reach the WTA Yarra Valley Open semifinals before withdrawing ahead of her clash with Ash Barty with a shoulder complaint.

And now on a five-match winning streak, she improves her record in Grand Slam first-round matches to a jaw-dropping 76-1.

Another statement.