Distracted Williams sounds ominous warning in season opener

Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:30am EST
 

By Will Swanton

BRISBANE (Reuters) - An angry and impatient Serena Williams overcame blustery conditions at the Brisbane International on Sunday in an ominous beginning to her only tournament before her charge at a 16th major title at the Australian Open next month.

The American threw her hands in the air, shook her head, gesticulated towards her coach and stomped her feet in petulant protest - but that did little to help compatriot Varvara Lepchenko who suffered a 6-2 6-1 first round defeat.

Howling with frustration in her first match since winning the WTA Championships at Istanbul in October, lacking rhythm in swirling winds on Pat Rafter Arena, Williams still delivered enough booming serves and punishing groundstrokes to prevail in a formidable if cantankerous display.

The reigning Wimbledon, Olympic and U.S. Open champion told reporters a calendar-year grand slam was very much on her mind at the start of the season.

Williams held all four major titles in the so-called Serena Slam of 2002-2003 but the holy grail of professional tennis is to win the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open tournaments in the same calendar year.

The American claimed world number one Victoria Azarenka and number two Maria Sharapova, and perhaps a few fringe-dwellers, were eyeing off a near-impossible feat not achieved since Steffi Graf's unbeaten run through 1988.

"I think whoever wins the Australian Open will have that same thought," Williams said.

"I think there is no way that Victoria or Maria or maybe some other players don't have that same thought. I think I definitely feel that way."   Continued...

 
Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts after missing a point against compatriot Varvara Lepchenko during their women's singles match at the Brisbane International tennis tournament December 30, 2012. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz