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Serena ready to wow Melbourne

A fired-up Serena Williams goes in search of her 10th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, with few betting against the formidable American achieving another major triumph.

sports Updated: Jan 16, 2009 10:43 IST

A fired-up Serena Williams goes in search of her 10th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, with few betting against the formidable American achieving another major triumph.

Only a few select women, including Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, have won more major titles although Williams still has some way to go to be in the same league as Margaret Court who collected 24.

After a solid 2008, Williams starts the year as world number two behind Jelena Jankovic after winning four tournaments, including the US Open, and failing to reach the quarter-finals on only three occasions.

She also won Olympic doubles gold with sister Venus before her season ended when she withdrew from the Sony Ericsson championships in November with a hamstring problem, an injury that caused her to miss the Hopman Cup.

But the Florida-based 27-year-old insists she is fighting fit and raring to go despite a subdued performance in her 6-3, 6-1 semi-final loss at the Sydney International to Russian world number four Elena Dementieva yesterday.

"(My preparation) has been good, it's been positive, very positive," Williams said.

"I don't think I have any hammy problems. I'm good, yeah."

The powerful baseliner with a booming serve returned to world number one last year in September for the first time in over five years, the longest gap between number one stints for any player ever, male or female.

She held on for four weeks before Jankovic regained the top spot and kept it till the end of the year. Williams is determined to reach the summit again.

Williams, whose self-belief has never wavered despite her weight and fitness being the butt of jokes over the years, has won in Melbourne three times before, in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

But she crashed in the quarter-finals to Jankovic last year as the defending champion, blaming a series of "crazy" mistakes.

Criticised in the past for arriving here without sufficient practice, she opted to play the Sydney International this week and has wowed the crowds with her tennis and some huge diamonds on loan from a local jeweller.

Williams remains a keen fashion designer and has her own clothing line, with her on-court attire as closely scrutinised as how she demolishes her opponents.

Playing up to her reputation, she arrived in Australia with six suitcases and a new wardrobe to show off.

"Always," she said when asked if she had new outfits for the opening Grand Slam of the season. "It wouldn't be the same if I didn't.

"I have (planned my outfits) so I'm excited."

Local media say she will wear a pink sports dress with black trim.

With over 20 million US dollars in prize money accumulated since she turned professional in 1995, Williams could walk away from the sport now and focus on her fashion design business, but that is not in her nature.

Williams likes winning and she likes winning Grand Slams more than anything else.