Serena Williams insists she is fit and firing for Australian Open

Serena Williams insists she is fit and firing for Australian Open

Serena Williams has brushed off concerns about her fitness as she gets set to defend her title at the Australian Open.

Williams pulled out of the Hopman Cup last week with a knee injury and was pictured taking treatment on Saturday after struggling during a practice session at Melbourne Park.

The 21-time grand slam champion has struggled with a number of injuries during her career but dismissed fears she may not be ready for the first grand slam of 2016.

“No, I’m at 120, 130 per cent right now,” Williams said.

“You know, this week and the weeks leading up have been a lot of work. I actually wanted to have an easy day today but in my mind ’easy’ is just two hours of really intense working out.”

On her knee, she added: “It’s actually really fine. I don’t have any inflammation anymore. It’s just that I needed some time to get over that little hump.”

The world number one’s withdrawal after just one set at the Hopman Cup means she has not completed a single competitive match since her shock US Open defeat to Roberta Vinci in September.

Williams, however, who can equal Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 grand slam titles in Australia, insists she is fit and raring to go.

“I’ve had a really good preparation,” Williams said.

“I mean, I didn’t have the matchplay that I’ve wanted to have but after playing for so many years on tour, I should be able to focus on that and the fact that I have played a lot of matches.

“So that’s what I’m trying to focus on now.”

Williams’ sharpness will be tested on Monday with a tough opening round against Italy’s Camila Giorgi, the highest ranked non-seed in the tournament.

The 34-year-old may also have to overcome Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova before the final, while her simmering relationship with Maria Sharapova could also be given another run-out, with the pair due to meet as early as the last eight.

Perhaps anticipating questions about the Russian, Williams was a prickly presence in her press conference.

“I don’t really ever look at the draw, so I would appreciate it if you didn’t mention it. Thank you,” she said.

On her aims for the tournament: “We all know the answer to that so no need to even say it.”

And what about looking back on last year, when she won three out of the four major tournaments? “I don’t look back,” she added.

Sharapova, seeded five, is nursing her own fitness problems after withdrawing from the Brisbane International last week with an injury to her forearm.

“I might be rusty, make a few more unforced errors than I would like, but I’m ready to go,” Sharapova said.

The 2008 champion also opens up on Monday against Japan’s Nao Hibino, ranked 58th in the world.

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