Saturday, January 11, 2014
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Serena zips her lip after scorchers follow Melbourne shivers

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[January 11, 2014]  By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters)  A subdued Serena Williams vowed never again to complain about Melbourne's changeable weather after her grumbles on an unseasonably chilly summer's day were followed by several days of scorching heat.

The world number one, and hot favorite to win her sixth title at Melbourne Park after a brilliant 2013, tweeted her disdain for the cold when arriving in Melbourne earlier this week from sub-tropical Brisbane.

Back down to a cool 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) on Saturday after several sweltering days, the heat is expected to return with a vengeance on Monday, when the Australian Open kicks off, and remain for much of the first week.

"(The cold's) been putting me in a really bad mood. But then it got really, really hot. I was very sad that I complained, so I don't complain any more about the weather," she smiled at reporters during her pre-tournament media conference.

"I'm not (looking forward to the heat). That's why I said I'm not going to complain any more. I should have kept my mouth quiet and dealt with the cold weather.

"I shiver, then I just stay indoors. I travel with a blanket. If I go out to eat, I just always take my blanket with me."

Williams, who like many of the world's top players calls balmy Florida home, prepared for Melbourne Park with a dominant defense of her Brisbane International title, where she defeated Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, the players rated her two biggest obstacles to an 18th grand slam title.

Winning at Melbourne Park would see her join Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova with 18 grand slam singles crowns.

"It would mean a lot to be on the same level as such great players as Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova," said Williams.

"I still have a lot of work to do. I obviously want to be able to reach that level, but I'm not there yet. Hopefully I'll get there."

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Top seed at Melbourne Park, the 32-year-old has been robbed of further silverware at Melbourne Park due to a combination of injuries and illness in the past three years.

"I just wasn't able to stay on two feet, literally," said Williams, who won the last of her five Melbourne Park titles in 2010.

"So I just think that just this year I've been doing a lot of exercises for my ankles and trying to make sure that they're pretty stabilized to get used to this."

On opposite sides of the draw, second seed Azarenka and Williams would meet in the final if they advance that far.

Low-key and brief with her responses to reporters' questions, Williams perked up for a moment when asked about her rivalry with Azarenka, who won two of their five matches last year but has never beaten the American in eight encounters at the grand slams.

"I think Victoria is great," said Williams, who faces Australian wildcard Ashleigh Barty in the first round on Monday.

"She obviously plays really great on the hard court. I think we have a really special thing going on currently right now."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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