SERENA STRIKES IT UP

By Craig Gabriel

MELBOURNE, Australia: When Serena Williams played her first match at the Australian Open this year there was some great concern for her because she rolled her right ankle and she said she was close to panicking as the injury was attended to.

She ended up winning that match without the loss of a game but even later Serena was a bit subdued, maybe thinking about it. She took care of the ankle by icing it and getting massage and when she played her second round, people noticed that it was taped. They were forgetting that Serena tapes both her ankles as a precaution every time she plays.

She then proceeded to dismantle a young, inexperienced Spaniard named Garbine Muguruza beating her 6-2, 6-0. It’s put her into the third round to face Japanese player Ayumi Morita.

However, the match was not without its own calamities and Serena was left more than amused when she recounted an incident that happened in the first set. Early in the set, while chasing down a return, she swung at the ball but instead of making contact with the round, yellow fuzzy thing, she hit herself in the face.

Goodness Serena … how long you been playing this game?

“I just busted it, busted it wide open. That’s so inappropriate,” she said full of laughter.  “I think it happens to everyone, but I have never busted it wide open like that. So, yeah, I was like, Oh, no.  I can’t have a tooth fall out.  That would be horrible.

“It’s a war wound. I don’t know why my racquet was even in my face.  I mean, it’s like I have been playing tennis far too long to hit myself.  I think I was hitting a forehand …I’m like, come on.  Like, Serena, pull yourself together here, you know.”

Asked if this was a case of hard luck in Australia, she was amused and said: “Right?  I’m on the up and up, I feel. It can only get better from here.”

Attention then swung (bad choice of term, but heck it fits) to the fact that she had struck (oops, another poor choice of term) a serve on the last point that was clocked at 128mph.

“It sure was (that) and I did not expect that.  I was like, Okay, I’m going to hit a big one, 200.  It went 207.  I was like, Wow,” Serena said.  “I think it’s my fastest that went in. I have hit some like 150s, but of course they’re like to the sky.

“I did not expect to hit 207; I was shooting for 200. So next time I will try I will try to hit it ‑‑ I don’t know, I don’t think I can hit it that hard.  I will just see.”

But Serena, please, be careful.