Williams was eight weeks pregnant when she captured her 23rd Grand Slam trophy at Melbourne in 2017 but missed opportunities to equal Australian Court on her return from maternity leave, losing in the final of Wimbledon and the US Open a year ago.
January sees the tennis season blaze into life on the scorching hard courts of Melbourne Park.
"Maybe", Maria said afterward, "I was a little bit overwhelmed".
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Both Nishikori, who had dropped the opening two sets against qualifier Kamil Majchrzak, and Fognini advanced when their opponents retired mid-match. After more knee trouble and a long lay off from the game Tsonga came here the world No.177 and was unseeded for the first time at a grand slam since that final 11 years ago.
Six-time Melbourne Park victor Novak Djokovic is also looking to make history by winning a seventh title and takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who he beat in the 2008 final, in a night match.
Djokovic won in straight sets 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, finishing close to 1am. "I think I've been serving really, really well the last couple days".
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The signs looked ominous for Bouchard when she won only one point on her opening service game, then failed to hit a return when it was Serena's turn to serve. Djokovic eliminated Mitchell Krueger of the US 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, while Halep trailed by a set and a break before coming back to beat Kaia Kanepi 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-2 and avoid becoming the first top-seeded woman in 40 years to lose her opening match at the Australian Open. Her baby, Olympia, was born on September 1, 2017, and Williams was off the tour until last March. "I don't want to put her on too much of a pedestal because I have to play her, but I love her". She's made it this far.
But watching her dominant second-round win over a player many believed could ride her recent success to an upset over Williams was a reminder of something else: how many Eugenie Bouchards have come and gone and come again during Williams' remarkable 20-year reign over this sport. "Like I said, I'm just going to go out there, enjoy myself".
For Williams, the catsuit, she said, made her feel like a "superhero", and the compression stockings she will wear for the duration of the tournament at Melbourne Park, have a more serious objective. "Yeah, after I got that tiebreak in the second set, I knew that the momentum was kind of with me, so I just tried to stay on it", Shapovalov said. "But I don't feel like sleeping".
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