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Open delay perfect for my recovery, says Williams



American tennis star Serena Williams

American tennis star Serena Williams

American tennis star Serena Williams

Serena Williams revealed she may not have been able to play the Australian Open had it not been delayed after making a winning start to her 2021 campaign.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion withdrew ahead of her second-round match at the French Open last October with an Achilles injury suffered at the US Open, and the problem took longer than expected to heal.

The need for players to complete quarantine on arrival in Australia meant the year's first Grand Slam was pushed back by three weeks and, after beating Daria Gavrilova 6-1 6-4 at the Yarra Valley Classic, Williams said: "It was great for me because I needed the time, because I couldn't practise because of my Achilles.

"I don't think I would have been here if it was during the regular season. I definitely took that time to recover and to just do the best that I can, and now it's a lot better."

Britain's Katie Boulter began her season in impressive fashion with victory over Anna Kalinskaya but there were defeats for Cameron Norrie and Francesca Jones at the Gippsland Trophy.

Boulter was dominant against 107th-ranked Russian Kalinskaya, winning 6-1 6-3 to set up a second-round clash against American teenager Coco Gauff.

Norrie led early against 15th seed Tommy Paul of the US at the Murray River Open, but the American fought back to take the match 4-6 7-6 (2) 6-3.

Jones was making her tour-level debut at the Yarra Valley Classic but found 14th seed Nadia Podoroska a real step up, with last year's French Open semi-finalist winning 6-1 6-3.

Belfast Telegraph