The Williams sisters rolled back the years on Monday as both stormed to straight-set victories in the Australian Open first round.
Serena, 39, thrashed Laura Siegemund 6-1 6-1 shortly after her older sister Venus, 40, powered past Kirsten Flipkens 7-5 6-2.
It was a statement win for Serena who is bidding for a record-equaling 24th career grand slam title.
In truth, Serena rarely has problems with first-round matches at grand slams. She’s lost just one of 77 in her long career and rarely looked troubled against Siegemund despite coming into the tournament nursing a shoulder injury.
Serena hit 16 winners and four aces to brush aside Siegemund in 56 minutes and set up a meeting with Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic in the second round.
“This was a good start. Definitely vintage ‘Rena,'” said Serena, who is a seven-time Australian Open champion, in her on-court interview after her victory.
“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.”
Venus on form
It was also a good day for Venus, who made a strong start to the tournament shortly before Serena took to the court.
The 40-year-old Venus came from a break down in the first set to beat Belgium’s Flipkens in a powerful display of grit and determination.
Venus, who has overcome a host of injuries and health complications in her career, is playing in her 88th grand slam main draw in Melbourne.
“I’m trying to get better every day,” said Venus, who will face Italy’s Sara Errani in the next round.
“I think that no matter what happens to you in life, you always hold your head up high, you give a hundred million percent. That’s what I do every single day. That’s something that I can be proud of.”
Age is just a number
The Williams sisters’ wins came just hours before 43-year-old Tom Brady secured his seventh Super Bowl title proving yet again that in sport, as in life, age is just a number.
As she fulfilled her media requirements after winning her match, Serena had one eye on what was going on back home in the US.
“My only word is it’s unbelievable. You can’t say it was the system he was at formerly. It’s definitely Tom Brady, he’s Tom Brady. He’s amazing,” she said later, having quickly caught up with the news back in the locker room.
Elsewhere in Melbourne, Naomi Osaka breezed into the second round after a 6-1 6-2 victory against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The US Open champion will face Caroline Garcia in the next round.
Reigning champion Novak Djokovic began the defense of his title in style, beating France’s Jeremy Chardy in straight sets 6-3 6-1 6-2.
The 17-time grand slam winner was comfortable throughout and has his eyes set on a record-extending ninth Australian Open title.
“There is an ongoing love affair with me and this court. I wanted to start off well,” Djokovic told reporters after the match.
Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios cruised through his first-round match with a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over Frederico Ferreira Silva.
The Australian hasn’t played a grand slam match in over a year, opting not to travel to the US Open amid the pandemic, and admitted being nervous when walking out on court.
“I was very fortunate that Covid didn’t affect me or my family. I used it as a massive reset and I’m just glad to be back out here,” he told reporters.