It is a rare thing for Serena williams to play a tournament the week before one of the Grand Slam tournaments.
Now that she’s in Melbourne Park, she’s making the most of the Yarra Valley Classic to get ready for next week. open from Australia.
The 23-time major champion beat Tsvetana Pironkova 6-1, 6-4 on Wednesday to advance to the quarter-finals. She is still on track for a semi-final against top ranked Ash Barty.
Williams won a tough victory over Pironkova in last year’s US Open quarter-finals, then withdrew from his scheduled second-round match at Roland Garros with an injury to Achilles.
This injury prevented Williams from playing competitive tennis until last week. She played her first matches in Australia in a long sleeve top.
But it was warmer Wednesday and Williams came out warm. She won the first set in 28 minutes and made Pironkova fight for almost all points. The Bulgarian rallied in the second set and saved three match points before Williams finished him off with a powerful serve return forcing an error.
Williams was then asked when was the last time she played a warm-up tournament so close to a major.
The US Open last year was his short answer. Then she elaborated.
“But before that, before this whole pandemic, I could count the times with one finger that I did that,” she said. “I’m just happy to be here under all circumstances. It’s so cool after what the world has been going on for the past 12 months. Very special to be here.”
Williams won her last major title at the 2017 Australian Open, while pregnant with her daughter, Olympia. She still pursues Margaret Court’s all-time record with 24 Grand Slam singles titles.