The Australian Open 2017 is underway, and the best Tennis players in the world who could be there are out in force to better their ranking or take the first cup in this year’s Grand Slam run. This is the stage wherein American tennis goddess and one-time WTA Number 1 Serena Williams finds herself, seeded second at the women’s singles first round. She faces off against younger Swiss player Belinda Bencic, who had successfully beaten Williams in the 2015 Rogers Cup semifinals in Toronto, which she went on to win. Williams herself was coming off a loss two weeks earlier at the New Zealand ASB Classic against fellow American Madison Brengle.

With these defeats in mind, the younger of the remarkable Williams tennis sisters went on to win over Bencic and advance to round 2.

Serena on a mission

At 35-years-old, Williams was in the greying area wherein pro tennis players begin to question whether they can keep on the game or retire. (It's not always an easy question; Jimmy Connors still played well beyond Serena's current age.) The circumstances of her opening match for this Australian Open were also additional sources of pressure. As stated earlier, the last time Williams took on Bencic two years ago, she was beaten. And her very last match in the last tournament she was in also wasn't in her favor. Now she's facing the young Swiss, 19 years old.

In her own words, Serena feels that this time she has "nothing to lose". But there's also one other thing going for her, a tangible objective driving her to her utmost potential: she's planning to win this Grand Slam event to set a new record of 23 Grand Slam title wins.

In the ensuing battle at Melbourne under the blistering heat, Williams paid Bencic back for their previous encounter with a strong 6-4 and 6-3 sweep of the first two sets.

And she enjoyed every minute of that initial victory as she later said, "Every match I'm playing for fun. I get to travel the world and do what I do best - play tennis." Indeed, things are off to a good start for Williams after losing in last year's Australian Open. Should she capture the championship this time, she'll break her 22-Grand Slam singles tie with the legendary Steffi Graf.

Other developments

While Williams is setting up for her record title run, on the men's side of this Australian Open, one of the top two seeds has also opened strong. On Day 2 second men's singles seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia beat Spain's Fernando Verdasco, while on the following day top seed Andy Murray will take on Russia's Andrey Rublev.