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Sports

Australian Open: Serena Williams, wonder woman

She appears in music videos and fills tennis stadiums. She overpowers her opponents and she will probably soon be the world No. 1 again. However, Serena Williams has long been much more than a tennis star.

At first, Serena Williams couldn't get her serve in. Then she got lucky with two of her shots grazing the net and dropping unfavorably for the subdued Barbora Strycova. It wasn't Williams' best match, it wasn't even one of the matches of the tournament, but Williams did what she so often does and won anyway, 7-5, 6-4.

The 16th-ranked Czech Republic star looked as if she would have liked to wrap Williams in that net and toss her into Melbourne's Yarra River, where winners have sometimes been known to take the plunge. For all the clever tennis Strycova played, Serena was simply better. Her power was formidable, her grace never forgotten - her hand was raised in apology for her fortune with the net.

Not here to have a good time

It almost sounded like a threat when Williams said a few days ago that she was obviously here for one reason. After Angelique Kerber was eliminated so early, many observers, such as the knowledgeable Martina Navratilova, believe that Serena is poised to retake her crown at the Australian Open.

It's clear that Serena Jameka Williams didn't travel to Melbourne just to have a good time.

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia (Reuters/J. Reed)

Serena Williams only has one objective in Melbourne

"C'mon!" This loud, intense scream that sometimes punctuates an ace or a big point, was heard in Williams' match against Strychova. The chair umpire had had enough after the first set and murmured "Serena," in a gentle word of warning.

In the twilight of her storied career, this "c'mon" is part of Serena Williams' corporate identity. At times she can be surprisingly prone to errors, heavy on her feet, and hit wild shots that leave her utterly perplexed. To speak of "terrible tennis" may be a tad unfair. If you listen to the players who have to face Serena on the other side of the net, you can only imagine the power of the 35-year-old's serve or how mercilessly she can hit a forehand cross return. However, Serena is back after an injury-induced break - and she is winning.

Tennis Serena Williams Box Anna Wintour und Shelby Bryan (picture alliance/empics/S. Dempsey)

Often it is not only her mother Oracene (front, middle) in Serena's box. Once in a while the head of Vogue, Anna Wintour (back, left) makes an appearance, like at Wimbledon in 2015

Bigger than the sport

In the post-match press conference, it seemed reporters were more interested in Williams' wedding plans than in talking about the match. Last month, Williams announced on Facebook that she was engaged to Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of the social news platform Reddit. Life is like a fairytale; Serena has been known to say from time to time.

Over the past year, Serena Williams hasn't been the force on the court she once was but having won 22 Grand Slam titles, who could blame her?

In the meantime, she's grown into a leading female voice and a style icon. When Beyonce released her highly popular concept record "Lemonade" last year, Serena was there - even starring in the music video for the song "Sorry".

USA Serena Williams und Patrick Mouratoglou (Getty Images/AFP/G. Wood)

The queen, her entourage, and coach Patrick Mouratoglou

Serena Williams, super woman. The organizers of the Australian Open (and other tournaments) are glad that she is back. The stands are full wherever she plays, and spectators love Serena and her sense for the dramatic. Perhaps in 2017, Williams will combine her relatively new iconic status with a return to the top spot in tennis. After all, this is the year the film Wonder Woman will be released.