Sublime Serena sails into second round in Melbourne | Reuters

Serena Williams took the first step on what she hopes will be the path to a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title in some style on Monday with a 6-1 6-1 thrashing of Germany’s Laura Siegemund at the Australian Open.

The 39-year-old American, who had never failed to get through the first round in 19 previous visits to Melbourne Park, made a faltering start with a double fault on the first point and gave up her serve in the first game.

Williams lost just one more game over the one-hour contest, however, overpowering her hapless opponent with thumping serves and howitzer forehands in front of a small but enthusiastic crowd of unmasked fans on Rod Laver Arena.

Next up for the seven-times Australian Open champion in her quest to match Australian Margaret Court’s record tally of Grand Slam titles is a second round tie against Serbian Nina Stojanovic. Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford

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