Video: Williams’ Pat Rafter Arena debut a winner

2 January 2012
By Brisbane International

Update 7:30 pm. Serena Williams has upped the ante on the crucial points to down a determined Chanelle Scheepers in the first round of the Brisbane International.

The American’s Tennyson debut in front of a sell-out crowd was closer than the 6-2 6-3 scoreline suggested and the perfect hit-out ahead of a second-round clash with young Serbian Bojana Jovanovski.

“That was definitely not easy. I think she played really well,” Williams said.

“I didn’t expect that.”

South African Scheepers stuck with the fourth seed on serve early in both sets but was eventually overrun as Williams raised the grunting and began to find her range late in the second set.

In other matches, qualifier Vania King has upset Hungary’s Melinda Czink in straight sets, 6-3 6-4. King will play Daniela Hantuchova in the second round. Joining her is Galina Voskoboeva, who handed qualifier Vera Dushevina a 6-0 6-0 loss, while Barbora Zahlavova Strycova survived a tough three-set match against Australian Olivia Rogowska.

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In men’s first-round matches, Denis Istomin was handed a free pass to the second round when fourth seed Florian Mayer retired mid-way through the second set. Istomin was leading 7-6(5) 2-3 when Mayer retired with a groin injury.

The final round of men’s qualifying has been predictably tough, with second seed Igor Andreev prevailing in three sets, 6-4 2-6 7-5, over sixth seed Jurgen Zopp and third seed Tatsuma Ito proved too strong for Australian Michael Look, winning in another three-set match, 4-6 6-4 6-4. Top seed Tobias Kamke was bundled out in straight sets by eighth-seeded American Jesse Levine, 7-5 6-4

Post-match with Serena

She may be the most famous female athlete on the planet, but Serena Williams concedes she has never actually liked sport.

It’s a scary prospect how much more dominant a player of her ability could be if she ever did fall in love with the game.

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“I don’t know how I became an athlete,” she said after posting her first match win of the season against a determined Chanelle Scheepers in Brisbane yesterday.

“I don’t like working out and don’t like anything to do with working physically. If it involves sitting down or shopping, I’m excellent at that.”

After “shaking a bit of the rust off” to down Scheepers, Williams went as far as saying she didn’t love tennis yesterday.

“[But] I can’t live without it,” she said following the 6-2 6-3 victory before a sell-out crowd on Pat Rafter Arena.

“It’s a difference between loving something and right now I can’t live without it. I don’t want to go anywhere anytime soon.”

With less time spent abroad when she does decide to call time on her illustrious career, Williams may welcome more time at home with her two wayward pet pooches.

Twice last year she tweeted about their lack of toilet training, after they “pooped” in her car and again on her carpet.

“I think I’m a bad parent, I can’t blame them,” she said.

“You know when a kid is bad you always have to look at the parent. It’s not necessarily the kid so now I’m looking at the man in the mirror and thinking that I failed somewhere along the line because it doesn’t make sense that they’re still not potty trained and  they’re about six and the other one’s ancient.”

“It’s my fault so I take the blame.”

Now aged 30, Williams makes no secret of preparing for life after tennis and insists her limited playing schedule helps keep the enthusiasm for a player who has seemingly achieved everything in the game.

“I think for me it’s all about motivation as opposed to my skill or anything else,” she said.

“As long as the motivation’s there it’s definitely going to be cool.

“I’m not playing a full schedule this year. I just want to be able to do other things that I’m doing and I think that will help keep my motivation up.

“I’m always preparing myself for life after tennis.”

Next up for Williams is young Serbian Bojana Jovanovski a player the fourth seed will not be underestimating.

“She’s a good player. I played her at the US Open so she knows my game now and I know her game now,” she said.

“I have to say I saw her practice yesterday and she’s slamming the ball really, really hard, she’s moving well so she’s due for some big matches.”

> View the complete draws and order of play

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