MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Serena Williams blitzed the first set in just 19 minutes as she launched her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title with a quickfire demolition of Anastasia Potapova at the Australian Open on Monday.
The 38-year-old American, wearing a lilac dress and matching trainers, and sporting heavily decorated fingernails, powered past the Russian teenager 6-0, 6-3 in 58 minutes.
The eighth seed plays Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia in round two in an expectant Melbourne, where she can equal the all-time record of Grand Slam titles.
Williams comes into Melbourne in ominous form after breaking her three-year title drought with victory in Auckland — her first since becoming a mother to two-year-old daughter Olympia.
Olympia watched her mother win the title last week, and Williams said after easing to victory over Potapova: “It (Auckland) was really special for me and her (Olympia) — I hope for her.”
But the American legend, speaking to an adoring crowd at the 15,000-capacity Rod Laver Arena, admitted that Olympia “just cares about Play-Doh”.
“I try to tell her I’m someone, you know,” she joked.
“(But) I am just known about town as Olympia’s mom — I love that.”
Williams threatened to blow away the 18-year-old Potapova — who was temperamental at times — in embarrassingly rapid fashion.
But the 90th-ranked Russian, overawed in the first set, fought back and broke Williams’s serve in the second, helped by some sloppiness from the American.
Williams double-faulted to go down a surprise 2-1, but there was never a hint of an upset as the American broke back before pulling away to an easy win.