"Every match was intimidating and not easy but you just go out and do the best you can". Not a bad way to prepare for Venus' younger sister, right?
The 18-year-old, who wasn't even born when the American won her first major singles title in 1999, was in tears as she walked to the net to shake the hand of her childhood hero, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Halep is the strongest competition Serena has faced early in the three Grand Slam she has played after her return in her quest to get a record equalling 24th Major. So there were question marks over Halep, having been working her way back from injury over the winter break.
Williams took a step back from tennis when she had daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr with husband Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, in September 2017. In the victory, Halep won 67 percent of her first serve points and 63 percent of her second serve points.
But much water has flown under the bridge since then: the Romanian has climbed up the ranks to the very top, backed that up with her first Grand Slam title at the 2018 French Open, and showed a lot more confidence and consistency on the tour.
Serena Williams in action during the Australian Open first round match against Germany's Tatjana Maria. "In my opinion, to be number one in the world and to be the best player in the world, it's a little bit different", she said.
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"I just told myself "you're going to die or win", said Svitolina, who scored her biggest career win by clinching the WTA Finals in Singapore last October.
But then she saved her best for the third round. "It is always great to play against Serena because every time I have to learn something from the match", Australian Open quoted Halep, as saying. "That really is all you can do", she said about her form so far.
After comforting the world No.57 on court, Williams took her aside in the changing rooms to exchange some more words of encouragement. "If she does, I'll be there".
The game looked bleak for Venus as Halep claimed a third successive break to open the second set.
Osaka will meet Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova in the fourth round after the 13th seed beat China's world No 21 Qianq Wang 6-3 6-3. Halep's only wins over Serena came in Singapore in 2014 and a walkover in the 2015 Indian Wells. Serena has cruised in all six sets this tournament and has just 12 aces, so there's still another level she can reach if needed. "She played unbelievable tennis and hopefully we'll see many more of her talents back in Melbourne". Her quality of the shots. 'I think that's something that we're going to continue to do, continue to fight for. I don't know how to describe that.