MELBOURNE, Australia - The second set wasn't plain sailing but Serena Williams moved through to the fourth round of the Australian Open relatively untroubled on Saturday afternoon, fighting off the two-handed blasts of young Japanese Ayumi Morita in straight sets on Rod Laver Arena, 61 63.
The No.3-seeded Williams stormed through the first set then stormed back from 3-0 behind in the second set against Morita, then gave her some very kind words during the post-match handshake.
"I said she did a good job, that's about it, because I thought she did," Williams said in her post-match press conference. "I only have positive things to say about her. I thought she played really well. She played at a higher level than I expected, so it took me off guard. She was just consistent, really consistent."
Williams' numbers may not have been as positive as she would have liked, but they were still a positive +4, 29 winners to 25 unforced errors. "I feel good," she said. "I feel today's match was actually a really good match for me. I was involved in a lot of longer points, something I definitely wanted.
"I hope I can keep this level up and go higher."
Towards the end of the first set Williams blasted a 128.7mph serve, her fastest ever, according to IDS records - and just a little bit off the record of 129.0mph, set by sister Venus Williams.
She was asked after the match about the serve. "Who hit the fastest?" she asked, before being told it was Venus Williams. "Oh it's my sister - well as long as it's her it's okay, I love her!"
The Williams winning streak just keeps building too - she has now won 19 matches in a row and 55 of her last 57 matches dating back to the beginning of the clay court season last April. She is also 12-2 lifetime against players who hit with two hands off both sides now - the two losses came to Monica Seles at Los Angeles over a decade ago in 2001 and Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon in 2011.
Next up for Williams is No.14 seed Maria Kirilenko, who won a one-hour, 54-minute two-setter against No.20 seed Yanina Wickmayer, 76(4) 63. "Maria is playing consistent tennis, especially the past 16 or 18 months, she's been so consistent," Williams said of the Russian. "My goal is just to be really focused against such a player who's doing so well. My job is just to do the best I can out there."
Williams was also asked about some sad news, the recent passing of Gertrude Augusta Moran - or Gussy Moran - who revolutionized on-court fashion in the women's game in the mid-1900s.
"When you look at the history of tennis, especially at Wimbledon, you see these women wearing these long gowns - I don't know how they could have possibly played in that," Williams said. "Someone always has to be the first. Obviously she made a way for not only tennis players but just women in general in sport. You don't have to wear a dress to your ankles to be a female athlete playing sports.
"I think being a trailblazer is honorable."