Serena Williams turned her right ankle and turned it up a notch against Edina Gallovits-Hall in the first round of the Australian Open, destroying her overwhelmed foe 6-0, 6-0.
Instead of being fazed or distracted by the pain, Williams pressed forward without a hitch.
“I’ve been injured before,” she said. “I’ve played this tournament with so many injuries and was able to come off pretty on top. So for me, it’s just another page and a great story to tell the grandkids one day.”
Ranked third, Williams is favored to win the first major of the season. She has been phenomenal, winning 35 of her previous 36 matches, including championships at Wimbledon, the London Olympics and the U.S. Open. And she looked just as dominant in round one, even while not completely healthy.
The potential turning point came when Williams was ahead 4-0 after 19 minutes of the first set. She fell awkwardly to her right while chasing a ball wide on her forehand side. She lay on the ground for for several moments, writhing in pain.
She rolled from her back to her hands and knees, where she stayed for several minutes before she was helped to her feet. She limped a little before easing into a walking stride, as she made her way to her court-side chair to have her already heavily-taped ankle treated and then re-taped.
“I think I was really, really close to panicking because a very similar thing happened to me last year, almost on the same side, the same shot,” Williams said. “So I almost panicked, and I thought, I can’t do that. I just have to really remain calm and think things through.”
Williams won the first point after getting hurt, approaching the net to hit a cross-court winner, and it was on after that. She hit two more forehand winners to go up 5-0, then called the trainer back to the court to adjust the taping on her ankle during the changeover. She had more treatment after winning the first set.
Williams, who has 15 major titles, winced slightly after jumping to hit an overhead in the third game of the second set and called the trainer out again to re-tape the ankle during the changeover, leading 3-0.
She dominated the second set despite the injury, giving up just six points to Gallovits-Hall.