(January 16, 2016) Serena Williams comes into the 2016 Australian Open as the defending champion seeking her seventh Melbourne crown. In her pre-tournament news conference, the 21-time major champion tried to set aside doubts about her fitness after photos of her taking a break during her practice seemed to raise concerns about her health.
The 34-year-old Williams has not played a competitive match since the U.S. Open and withdrew from Hopman Cup a couple of weeks ago due to knee inflammation.
“I’m at 120, 130 percent right now,” she told media on Saturday. “This week, the weeks leading up, has been a lot of work. I actually wanted to have an easy day today. But to me in my mind ‘easy’ is just two hours of really intense working out.”
“I’ve had a really good preparation. I mean, I didn’t have the match play that I’ve wanted to have. But after playing for so many years on tour, I should be able to, you know, focus on that and the fact that I have played a lot of matches. So that’s what I’m trying to focus on now.”
Asked about her knee, she said: “I don’t have any inflammation anymore. It’s just that I just needed some time to get over that little hump.
Like I said, I’ve been doing a lot of, lot of, lot of training leading up to this. But, yeah, I’m totally — I don’t think I would need surgery at all.”
Williams opens her quest for a 22nd major title against No. 35 Camila Giorgi on Monday. Questioned about her draw, the world No. 1 said: “Yeah, I always seem to have a tough draw, so it’s fine. Doesn’t matter who I play. At some point you have to play everyone. You know, that’s how it always works out. So that’s what it is.”
“I didn’t have the match play that I’ve wanted to have,” she commented. “But after playing for so many years on tour, I should be able to focus on that and the fact that I have played a lot of matches.”
Williams fell short of winning a calendar Grand Slam last year, losing to Roberta Vinci in the semifinal of the U.S. Open.
Asked about her nerves and her injury, since she hasn’t had much match play, Williams explained: “No, I feel fine. Honestly, I don’t have anything to prove. I have nothing to lose. I can only gain. That’s kind of how I look at it right now.”