World number one Serena Williams insists she is fit and ready for a shot at a seventh Australian Open title, downplaying a knee injury that forced her out of the Hopman Cup last week.
The world number one retired due to soreness in her left knee during a singles match on January 6 at the mixed-team tournament in Perth, casting doubt over her ability to defend her title at the opening Grand Slam of the season.
But the 34-year-old told the Melbourne Herald Sun she was “ready for it”. “My body is feeling great now,” she said.
“Obviously I had a hiccup but right now it is doing much better. I’ve had a few days of training so it’s looking good.”
The 34-year-old, who battled knee problems in the latter half of 2015 and has barely played since October, trained at Melbourne Park on Monday. “I know what I need to do on and off the court to win big tournaments,” she added to the newspaper late on Monday.
“That is what I like to do.”
At the time of her retirement in Perth, Williams said: “I just have some inflammation that’s been going away very slowly.
“It’s still there, it’s going away, but just needs a little more time. A little rest, a little treatment.”
Melbourne Park has been a happy hunting ground for the American 21-time Grand Slam champion.
She won the Australian Open for the first time way back in 2003, and made it title number six last year when she toppled arch-rival Maria Sharapova in the final.
Williams owned women’s tennis in 2015, winning three Grand Slams (Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon) and triumphing in 53 of the 56 matches she played.
She was on track for a rare calendar-year Grand Slam until she was beaten by Italian Roberta Vinci in the US Open semi-final in early September, before bringing an early halt to a season that took a heavy physical toll.