Serena Williams has denied the defence of her Australian Open title will be put at risk by playing in the doubles final today.
The 28-year-old American will be attempting to clinch her fifth singles title at Melbourne Park when she meets Justine Henin in tomorrow’s final but will have to do it the hard way after a busy recent schedule.
Williams spent more than two hours on court yesterday as she needed two tie-break sets to fend off the plucky challenge of 16th seed Li Na 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (7/1) in hot conditions in Melbourne.
Williams then spent a further hour and a half on court alongside sister Venus as they won through to today’s doubles final with a 6-3 7-6 (8/6) victory over Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs.
By contrast, Henin took only 51 minutes to breeze past Zheng Jie 6-1 6-0 – the shortest match at the tournament – and into the final in only her second event back after a 20-month retirement.
Despite that, Williams does not think she will be at a disadvantage when the pair step out on Rod Laver Arena.
“You can look at it as she has an advantage because maybe her legs are fresh,” Williams said.
“I can look at it as maybe I have an advantage because I’ve just been going at it.
“I don’t think about it. Honestly, I’m not even thinking about that right now.”
Henin came into the tournament with a gluteal injury she suffered when she lost the final of her comeback event in Brisbane at the start of the month.
The 27-year-old seven-time champion has also spoken of how she has struggled to recover from matches at the Australian Open as she gets used to the rigours of a major event again.
But Henin, who remarkably has never played Williams in a grand slam final despite sharing 18 majors between them, admitted she was glad for her easy ride through the semi-finals.
“I’ve been playing a lot of tough matches in the last two weeks so that was the best to recover today,” she said.
“I knew it could be a dangerous match. Especially in my situation, I was very excited about the possibility of being in another grand slam final.
“I knew I had to be really careful about that match. I’ve been very focused, very concentrated. I did my job perfectly well. That worked pretty good.
“I’m very excited about what’s going to come up for me and can’t wait for it now.”