MELBOURNE, Australia — Injury? What injury? The draw? Don’t mention the draw.
Six-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams worked her way through the pre-Grand Slam rituals on Saturday, practicing on the center court at Melbourne Park, and fielding questions about the inflammation in her left knee that restricted her preparations, and about a tough road to another title.
After a tough opener against Camila Giorgi, the highest ranked of the unseeded players in the women’s draw, Williams may have to face former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round and No. 5-ranked Maria Sharapova in a quarterfinal match that would feature last year’s finalists.
“I don’t really ever look at the draw, so I would appreciate it if you didn’t mention it. Thank you,” she said, shutting down talk of another showdown with Sharapova.
Both players withdrew from tournaments in the first week of the season, with Williams playing just one set in the Hopman Cup — her first competitive outing since her pursuit of the calendar-year Grand Slam ended in a semifinal loss at the U.S. Open — and Sharapova withdrawing before her opening match at the Brisbane International because of a sore left forearm.
On Saturday, two days before her opening match, Williams said she felt “a little tired” because she’d been doing so much work, hosing down speculation that she
was struggling during her hitting session earlier in the morning. In terms of training, she’s not just working at 100 percent, she said, “I’m at 120, 130 percent right now.”
“I’ve had a really good preparation,” she said. “I didn’t have the match play that I’ve wanted to have but after playing for so many years on tour, I should be able to focus on that and the fact that I have played a lot of matches.”
She has won 21 major titles, including the Australian and French Opens and Wimbledon in 2015. She doesn’t expect injury to be a problem.
“It’s actually really fine. I don’t have any inflammation anymore,” she said. “It’s just that I just needed some time to get over that little hump.”