Serena Williams was eight weeks pregnant throughout her 2017 Australian Open triumph and although she has failed so as to add to her tally of 23 Grand Slam titles, the American remains to be thought to be the dominant power in ladies’s tennis.
The 37-year-old took a year off after the start of her daughter, Alexis Olympia in September of that year, before returning to action final season, when she reached the finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Her quest for an additional main fell on the final hurdle on each events, nonetheless, with defeats to Germany’s Angelique Kerber in London and rising Japanese star Naomi Osaka in New York.
The losses left Williams nonetheless in search of a 24th Grand Slam singles title to equal Margaret Court’s all-time document.
The former Australian Open winner will nonetheless have one other tilt at that milestone in the course of the Jan. 14-27 occasion, despite getting into the match ranked 16th on the earth.
While Williams achieved her victory over sister Venus within the final two years in the past, the problem this year is expected to return from an unlimited array of players.
Chris Evert has described making an attempt to choose a ladies’s singles champion in Melbourne as a “crapshoot”, with the final eight Grand Slam titles having been received by totally different players.
World primary Simona Halep has had a fractured lead-up to the match, with a again damage reducing brief her 2018 season in September.
She can be and not using a coach for the first few months of the season after Darren Cahill left for “household causes”.
And if that setback was not sufficient, she was outplayed by unseeded Australian Ashleigh Barty within the second round of the Sydney International.
The Romanian, who lost the 2018 Australian Open final to Caroline Wozniacki, could rue her lack of aggressive matches however remained upbeat, whereas saying she had low expectations for the year’s first Grand Slam.
“I believe I performed an excellent degree of tennis… No ache in any respect. I’m completely satisfied about that. It’s an incredible signal,” Halep instructed reporters after her loss to Barty.
A second Australian Open title for Kerber, who denied Williams within the 2016 final, can be an ideal birthday reward for the world quantity two, who turns 31 in the course of the first week of the match.
She seemed sharp on the Hopman Cup, sustaining a 100 per cent singles document, although Germany lost to Roger Federer’s Switzerland within the final.
Defending champion Wozniacki has been battling rheumatoid arthritis, however the 28-year-old Dane will remain a contender, as will 21-year-old Osaka, who jumped into the highlight together with her ruthless victory over a fired-up Williams in New York.
Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka has emerged as a darkish horse, with many observers, including American nice Evert, tipping the 20-year-old to make her Grand Slam breakthrough in 2019.
Sabalenka surged up the WTA rankings final year together with her first two titles and arrived in Melbourne recent from profitable one other match in Shenzhen.