Serena Williams definitely doesn’t want to talk about the No. 23. She doesn’t really want to think about planning a wedding, either, while she’s pursuing a Grand Slam record.
Newly engaged Williams brushed off concerns about the 88 unforced errors she had in a loss in New Zealand last week in her only warmup tournament ahead of the Australian Open, which starts Monday (Sunday, Pacific time) and where she’s aiming for Open-era record 23rd major title.
“I’ve moved on,” she said. “I’m feeling relaxed, calm, ready and poised.”
Williams responded to questions about milestone achievements last year when she had 21 Grand Slam titles, and it didn’t help — she lost the final here to Angelique Kerber and then to Garbine Muguruza at the French Open before winning Wimbledon to equal Steffi Graf’s Open era mark of 22. She’s being more superstitious this time.
“I’m not talking about that,” Williams, a six-time Australian Open winner, said as she shut down questions during a promotional activity this week. “I said I’m not talking about that. Move on.”
Another Australian title is also high on the agenda for Novak Djokovic, who already has won six. But he isn’t thinking much beyond his opening match after drawing Fernando Verdasco.
A first is the priority for Andy Murray, recently knighted in Britain after finishing 2016 at No. 1. He is looking at the draw from the top for the first time at a major and is hoping it comes with a change in fortunes at Melbourne Park. He has lost five Australian Open finals — the first to Roger Federer in 2010, the other four to Djokovic.
Williams took time off after the U.S. Open, where she lost in the semifinals for the second consecutive year and lost the top ranking to Kerber.
The big news during her break was her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last month, but Williams recently said her mind was back entirely on tennis.
“I told [Ohanian] my main goal was to win this title,” she said. “Yeah, it really doesn’t feel like anything different.”
First-round matches Monday at the Australian Open
No. 1 Andy Murray vs. Illya Marchenko
No. 17 Roger Federer vs. Jurgen Melzer
No. 4 Stan Wawrinka vs. Martin Klizan
No. 5 Kei Nishikori vs. Andrey Kuznetsov
No. 1 Angelique Kerber vs. Lesia Tsurenko
No. 4 Simona Halep vs. Shelby Rogers
No. 15 Roberta Vinci vs. CoCo Vandeweghe
No. 13 Venus Williams vs. Kateryna Kozlova