Serena powers into Open second round

Darren Walton
.Serena Williams has made a flying start to the Australian Open

Conceding the monkey was finally off her back, tennis super-mum Serena Williams raced into the Australian Open second round like she was paying baby-sitting fees.

Seeking an unprecedented eighth crown at Melbourne Park, but first since 2017, Williams powered past Czech teenager Anastasia Potapova 6-0 6-3 in just 58 minutes on Monday.

"It was good. I felt like I started out really well. Played really strong in the first set, and just kept building on that," the American said.

"I feel like I can still improve and get better throughout this tournament, for sure. This is a good stepping stone for right now."

Williams had endured a three-year title drought before winning in Auckland 10 days ago in front of daughter Olympia to underline her intentions to finally match Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 singles majors.

"It was amazing," Williams said.

"I hadn't been able to win as a mum, it was nice to be able to win a tournament with a two-year-old.

"It was really special for me - and hopefully for her."

In reality, her Auckland breakthrough was far more significant for the 38-year-old Williams than it was for her toddler daughter.

She had been chasing her long-craved first-ever title as a mother since beating sister Venus while pregnant in the 2017 final at Melbourne Park.

"To say, monkey off my back, kind of, it was very important for me to get a win in the final. It felt like a relief. Yeah, like I could move forward now," Williams said.

Desperate to match Margaret Court's all-time record grand slam singles haul, Williams has lost four major finals in the past 18 months without even grabbing a set.

She admitted on Monday to trying to be more relaxed in her pursuit of the record.

"It's factored a lot into my game, and now it's just more or less about doing the best that Serena Williams can do," Williams said.

"Margaret Court was a wonderful, great champion. And now how great is Serena Williams? That's it.

"That's kind of what I have been thinking about the last couple of weeks and months. It definitely helps me relax a lot."

Playing the Open for the 19th time, Williams has never lost in the first round.

The ninth-seeded American next plays Slovenian Tamara Zidansek, a 6-3 6-3 first-round winner over Korean wildcard Na-Lae Han.