Distracted Williams sounds ominous warning in season opener

BRISBANE Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:40pm IST

Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts after missing a point against compatriot Varvara Lepchenko during their women's singles match at the Brisbane International tennis tournament December 30, 2012. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts after missing a point against compatriot Varvara Lepchenko during their women's singles match at the Brisbane International tennis tournament December 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Daniel Munoz

Related Topics

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, adjusts her flower garlands as she campaigns for her mother during an election meeting at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Election 2014

More than 814 million people — a number larger than the population of Europe — are eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.  Full Coverage 

BRISBANE (Reuters) - An angry and impatient Serena Williams overcame blustery conditions at the Brisbane International on Sunday in an ominous beginning to her only tournament before her charge at a 16th major title at the Australian Open next month.

The American threw her hands in the air, shook her head, gesticulated towards her coach and stomped her feet in petulant protest - but that did little to help compatriot Varvara Lepchenko who suffered a 6-2 6-1 first round defeat.

Howling with frustration in her first match since winning the WTA Championships at Istanbul in October, lacking rhythm in swirling winds on Pat Rafter Arena, Williams still delivered enough booming serves and punishing groundstrokes to prevail in a formidable if cantankerous display.

The reigning Wimbledon, Olympic and U.S. Open champion told reporters a calendar-year grand slam was very much on her mind at the start of the season.

Williams held all four major titles in the so-called Serena Slam of 2002-2003 but the holy grail of professional tennis is to win the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open tournaments in the same calendar year.

The American claimed world number one Victoria Azarenka and number two Maria Sharapova, and perhaps a few fringe-dwellers, were eyeing off a near-impossible feat not achieved since Steffi Graf's unbeaten run through 1988.

"I think whoever wins the Australian Open will have that same thought," Williams said.

"I think there is no way that Victoria or Maria or maybe some other players don't have that same thought. I think I definitely feel that way."

Both Azarenka and Sharapova are in a red-hot Brisbane field with Williams. Of the world's top 10, only Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na are missing.

The predictability of her defeat of Lepchenko was matched by the level of emotion surrounding Australian wildcard Jarmila Gajdosova's victory on the opening day.

HIGH EMOTION

Playing her first tournament since the passing in September of her mother, also named Jarmila, and with her world ranking having plummeted from a career high of 25 to 183 in the last 18 months, Gajdosova roared home from a one-set deficit to stun Italy's world number 16 Roberta Vinci.

Gajdosova wept after a 4-6 6-1 6-3 triumph that set up a second-round showdown against French Open champion Sharapova.

"There have been a lot of things happening in my life," Gajdosova said.

"As you all know, my mom passed away in September. It's been a difficult time. First Christmas, as well, without her. My dad is here. My brother and his wife and son. It was my first match in front of them and my first match in Australia, after a long time, without my mum."

Sixth-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova recovered from a pre-tournament asthma scare to defeat Spain's Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-3 6-4.

Kvitova has been gasping and wheezing in Brisbane's humid weather and revealed one of her recent attacks had been her worst in three years.

The 2011 Wimbledon champion was unaware she was asthmatic until she nearly collapsed during an event in New York in 2009.

"I was playing a tournament in the Bronx and after about five minutes I had to sit down and relax and have a drink because I just couldn't move and I couldn't play," she wrote in a column for the Courier-Mail newspaper.

"I still feel really uncomfortable when I'm in this sort of hot and humid weather and it was at practise on Friday that I started to feel a bit similar to what I did in The Bronx." (Editing by Justin Palmer)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Remembering Ayrton Senna

Handwritten notes and flags left by fans are pictured near the memorial statue of Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna at the race track in Imola April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofal

Senna's simple grave a magnet for fans 20 years on

Ayrton Senna is as discreet in death as he was lively in life. The last resting place of Brazil's most charismatic Formula One champion is marked by a brass plaque on a circular lawn, surrounded by almost identical plaques laid into the ground.There is no headstone and just a handful of flowers in plastic pots.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Urging Optimism

Urging Optimism

Be optimistic about Brazil, says Blatter.  Full Article 

Sturridge Hopeful

Sturridge Hopeful

Sturridge hopeful of returning against Chelsea.  Full Article 

Phelps Sceptical

Phelps Sceptical

'Grandfather' Phelps plays down Rio prospects.  Full Article 

On Trial

On Trial

Formula One boss Ecclestone goes on trial in Germany.  Full Article 

Premier League

Premier League

Preview - Liverpool seek to land knockout blow on Chelsea.  Full Article 

Serie A

Serie A

Roma running out of games in pursuit of relentless Juve.  Full Article 

China Open

China Open

Dyson enjoys happy return to China, shares lead with Quiros.  Full Article 

La Liga

La Liga

No rest for weary Atletico as Valencia trip looms.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage