MELBOURNE, Australia —
Her subsequent trip to the French Open ended in her only first-round exit at a Grand Slam tournament, more painful mentally than physically.
Stunned by the defeat in Paris, she hired a new coaching consultant, amended her training regime and won Wimbledon, the London Olympics, the U.S. Open, the season-ending championship and added the 2013 Brisbane International title to her collection.
Now she has 36 wins from her last 37 matches. And she decided that she’d ice her ankles, wait for the swelling and bruising and think about medical tests later.
“I would really rather not know,” she said. “One year I won this tournament and had two bone bruises in both knees. I had no idea. I just knew I was in pain. I think sometimes what you don’t know cannot hurt you.”
She expects to at least start her second-round match Thursday against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who beat Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 4-6, 6-1, 14-12 — the final set lasted more than two hours.
“Oh, I’ll be out there,” Williams said. “I mean, unless something fatal happens to me, there’s no way I’m not going to be competing. I’m alive. My heart’s beating. I’ll be fine.”
If results go according to rankings, Williams will meet top-ranked Azarenka in the semifinals. But a lot can happen before then.
Azarenka has lost 11 of her 12 matches against Williams, including the U.S. Open final. Even if Williams is on one leg, Azarenka is still wary of the 15-time Grand Slam champion. After her 6-1, 6-4 win over Monica Niculescu, she checked the progress in the Williams match.
“I heard she won love and love, so what kind of injury are we talking about?” she joked.
She progressed along with former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Sabine Lisicki of Germany 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, and American teenager Sloane Stephens, who beat Simona Halep of Romania 6-1, 6-1.