The way she is playing, Serena Williams will take some stopping at the Australian Open.
Williams has faced two opponents in Melbourne so far and crushed them both, her latest emphatic victory coming Thursday when the legendary American eased past Eugenie Bouchard 6-2 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.
Williams said she didn’t want to linger in her press conference Tuesday, keen to get home to one-year-old daughter Alexis Olympia. Alexis may have been asleep when her mom took to the court against the Canadian — around 9 p.m. at Melbourne Park — but Williams’ time is indeed more precious these days with a family and business, hence her determination to ensure a quick day at the tennis office.
Asked how she focused, Williams replied: “It’s way more demanding. Even today I was replying to emails about our next collection with my brand, where we want to see it,” Williams told reporters, referring to her clothing brand. “So it’s different.
“Then I’m thinking, ‘I play a night match,’ so then I want to spend time with my daughter, so I won’t see her this evening for dinner. We do have dinner every night.
“It’s totally different. But I’m not doing anything special. I’m just doing what I feel like working parents do. They make it work. I’m just like literally everyone else. I’m making it work. It’s not easy. But I have to do, as a mom and wife, what I have to do.”
Williams needed a mere one hour, 10 minutes to dispatch rejuvenated 2014 Wimbledon finalist Bouchard after reducing her Florida neighbor Tatjana Maria to tears in the wake of a 49-minute 6-0 6-2 first-round mauling.
The next opponent trying to derail the 37-year-old’s bid for a record-tying 24th grand slam title and seventh in Melbourne is Dayana Yastremska, who defeated 23rd seed Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3 3-6 6-1. The 18-year-old is one of the WTA’s rising stars, winning her first title in Hong Kong last fall to help push her ranking to a career-best 57th.
Poor start for Bouchard
Bouchard has admirably boosted her own ranking in the past year, having almost dropped outside the top 200 in June after several coaching changes, injuries and a general loss of form. But Bouchard — now ranked 79th — made the worst possible start, quickly falling 3-0 behind.
Williams’ penetrating, yet controlled, groundstrokes gave Bouchard no time on the baseline and the 24-year-old was constantly under pressure on serve.
Her lone window of opportunity came in the second set. A frustrated Williams failed to convert three break points in Bouchard’s first two service games and then fell behind 0-30 serving at 1-2.
But she claimed the next four points, beginning a stretch where she landed 20 of the final 24 points.