Tennis: Serena Slam II on the cards?

Serena Williams poses with her outfit which she will debut at the 2013 Australian Open. Photo / Getty Images
Serena Williams poses with her outfit which she will debut at the 2013 Australian Open. Photo / Getty Images

A decade after completing her "Serena Slam" at Melbourne Park, the most dominant force in women's sport is in line for more tennis history at the Australian Open starting on Monday.

After sweeping to Wimbledon and US Open glory in 2012 - not to mention striking double gold at the London Olympics - Serena Williams can break all sorts of records and secure a shot at an unprecedented second non-calendar year grand slam set with a sixth Open triumph on Australia Day.

If Williams' first-round defeat at last year's French Open helped spark her remarkable run of 35 wins from her past 36 matches, imagine the motivation the fiercely competitive American would carry to Roland Garros this year if striving to join Steffi Graf as the only woman to hold all four major trophies simultaneously on two occasions.

In addition to her fabled "Golden Slam" - grand slam plus Olympic gold - in 1988, Graf also completed a non-calendar year grand slam sweep in Melbourne in 1994.

John McEnroe has already praised Williams as the greatest women's player in history and debate would only intensify if she became, at 31 years and four months, the oldest Australian Open champion and oldest world No.1.

With three singles majors more than 15-times grand slam winner Williams, Martina Navratilova this week unsurprisingly stopped short of agreeing with McEnroe's lofty rating.

But Navratilova has no doubts Williams is high on the list with the likes of Chris Evert, who also has 18 slams, Graf (22) and Australia's all-time leader Margaret Smith Court (24).

"She is not done yet - definitely in top five, top three, I don't know," Navratilova said.

"I never rate the greatest because the different generations, different parameters, so you can't really judge that.

"It is just nice to be in that group and she is definitely in that group.

"She is playing amazing tennis now. She seems to be very happy. She's happy off the court and happy on the court and I think she realised that her time was running out and re-dedicated herself.

"That first-round loss at the French Open last year was the best thing that happened to her and now she's seeing how much fun she's having winning everything."

With her own Open hopes looking forlorn after another horror build-up, Samantha Stosur - who has enjoyed more success than most against Williams - declared the American a raging favourite.

"I think you would be a pretty brave person to go against her straight off the bat," said Stosur, describing Williams' French Open flop as a merely a "bit of a mishap".

"She's the in-form player and has carried that for a really long period of time now."

In a statistical anomaly, world No.1 and defending champion Victoria Azarenka and 2012 Open runner-up Maria Sharapova remain ranked above Williams.

Apart from owning dreadful head-to-head records against Williams, Azarenka (toe) and Sharapova (shoulder) both arrived in Melbourne after pulling out of the season-opening Brisbane International and skipping the Sydney lead-up event.

Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, German fifth seed Angelique Kerber and Chinese sixth seed Li Na loom as possible challengers after making impressive starts to 2013.

But the Williams juggernaut will take a power of stopping.

"I am playing some of my best tennis," Williams said.

"I feel like I want to do better and play better still."

-AAP

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