Serena vows to hobble on
Melbourne - A defiant Serena Williams vowed to battle through the pain barrier on Tuesday after a big injury scare when she rolled her right ankle before reaching the Australian Open second round.
The 15-time Grand Slam winner, gunning for a sixth Australian title, landed heavily and went to ground in the first set before gingerly going through the motions to beat hapless Romanian Edina Gallovits-Hall 6-0, 6-0.
"Oh, I'll be out there," she said when asked if she would be playing her next match on Thursday, against either Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova or Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
"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.
"I've been injured before," she added. "I've played this tournament with so many injuries and was able to come off pretty on top.
"So for me it's just another page and a great story to tell the grandkids one day."
Williams was comfortably winning 4-0 when she reached for a forehand in the fifth game and landed heavily, with her ankle twisting. The 31-year-old tumbled over with her hands over her face.
A trainer rushed on court and she was helped to her chair for a medical timeout where her strapping was replaced.
She returned to close out the set but was clearly in pain and her movement was affected as she received more treatment at the changeovers.
Despite the injury, the imposing Williams was far too good for Gallovits-Hall who failed to take advantage, allowing her opponent to wrap up the match in just 54 minutes while keeping her movements to the minimum.
"Obviously there's pain. Obviously there's swelling. So it's going to be really important to see how the next few hours unfold," Williams said, adding that she had to work hard to stay in control mentally.
"I think I was really, really close to panicking because a very similar thing happened to me last year, almost on the same side, the same shot," she said.
"So I almost panicked, and I thought, I can't do that. I just have to really remain calm and think things through."
Williams said she would ice her foot and leave it to the doctors to decide whether a scan or x-ray was needed, although she would rather not know if anything serious was wrong.
"Honestly, yeah, really, because I would really rather not know," she said.
"I know 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."
Fresh from claiming her 47th career title in Brisbane and with a rare calendar-year Grand Slam in her sights, the American is the hot favourite in Melbourne.
Williams, who won Wimbledon, the US Open and Olympic gold last year, is halfway to holding all the major titles at once for the second time, after first completing the non-calendar year "Serena Slam" in 2002-2003.
She also raised the stakes when she said in Brisbane that she was "absolutely" eyeing a Grand Slam of all four major titles this year, which was last achieved by Steffi Graf in 1988.
Williams won the tournament in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010, and another Australian tournament victory would return her to world number one.