World no. 11 Serena Williams scored three victories at this week's WTA 500 Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne to advance into the semis. Instead of an anticipated clash against world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty, Serena withdrew before the encounter due to a shoulder injury, already taking care of it and feeling optimistic about her Australian Open chances.
Serena experienced an Achilles injury at Roland Garros in October, recovering just in time to make the Adelaide trip and serve a two-week quarantine ahead of the Melbourne arrival. Serena defeated Naomi Osaka in Adelaide and grabbed three wins at the Yarra Valley Classic against Daria Gavrilova, Tsvetlana Pironkova and Danielle Collins.
Williams defeated Collins 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 in an hour and 36 minutes in the quarters, losing serve twice and delivering three breaks from 12 opportunities. The 23-time Major champion had the upper hand in the first set against the former Australian Open semi-finalist, scoring three breaks for 6-2.
Serena Williams is chasing the 24th Major title at the Australian Open.
Both players served well in the second set's opening six games, and Collins moved in front with a break at 3-3 for her first advantage. The younger American defended three break points a few minutes later to confirm the lead and sealed the set 6-4 when Serena netted a backhand in game ten.
Williams placed a forehand winner in the match tie break to open a 5-1 gap and landed another direct point from her more substantial wing at 9-6 to move over the top and grab the season's third victory. The seven-time Australian Open champion will face Laura Siegemund in the first round next week, with Nina Stojanovic or Irina-Camelia Begu waiting in the second round.
Serena shares the bottom quarter with Simona Halep, Elena Rybakina, Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka. "I feel pretty good; I've gotten a lot of treatment on my shoulder, but I'm super confident it's going to be great.
I'm feeling very confident, getting ready for hopefully the next two weeks. It's something that I'm going to have to deal with for the fortnight and knowing that going into the tournament helped. Also, I know that I probably have to pick up some different therapy exercises after each match; it will be important.
I was thinking about more or less how I was feeling; I think at my age and this stage of my career, I try to go on how I'm feeling physically and not put myself in a bad position in general for my health," Serena Williams said.