By Nick Mulvenney
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Serena Williams put on a vintage display of power tennis to ease into the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-1 6-1 drubbing of Germany's Laura Siegemund on Monday before rushing off court to catch the end of the Super Bowl.
First-round matches at Grand Slams have rarely presented a problem for the 39-year-old American, who has lost just one of 77 over her long career at the majors.
Williams admitted to some concern that a shoulder injury which forced her to withdraw from her warm-up tournament last week would hinder her serve, and that perhaps explained her double fault on the opening point of the match.
After losing her first service game, however, it was business as usual for Williams as she routed her opponent with thumping serves and howitzer forehands in front of a small but enthusiastic crowd of unmasked fans on Rod Laver Arena.
"I was happy just to get through it," she told reporters.
"Wasn't sure how my serve would be after a little bit of that shoulder, but it's feeling good, I'm feeling good. So it felt really good."
The only time Williams has fallen at the first hurdle at a Grand Slam was against Virginie Razzano at the 2012 French Open, a defeat which resulted in her linking up with long-time coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
"That was one of the worst days of my career," she recalled. "But it also brought the best days of my career afterwards. It was one of those necessary evils.
"I don't think I would be who I am if I hadn't had that loss. It just completely changed the whole course of my career. I'm happy to take another first-round loss if it happens like that again."
Her partnership with Mouratoglou has taken her to within one Grand Slam singles title of Margaret Court's long-standing record of 24, which the American could match with an eighth Australian Open title.
Next up for Williams in that quest is a second-round tie against Serbian Nina Stojanovic but her first thought after her match was to get back to the dressing room and watch 43-year-old Tom Brady winning his seventh Super Bowl.
"It's unbelievable," she said. "My only word is it's unbelievable. You can't say it was the system he was at formerly. It's definitely Tom Brady, he's Tom Brady. He's amazing."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)