Serena Williams overcame a massive threat in Melbourne on Monday - the WTA Rising Star who dealt her the worst Grand Slam loss of her career at last year's French Open.
WTA Staff

MELBOURNE, Australia - It wasn't just that Garbiñe Muguruza had given her the worst Grand Slam loss of her career at last year's French Open, allowing her just four games in an absolute rout in the second round, it was the way she came out firing this time too, taking the balls early and hitting them deep, flat and into the corners en route to a stunning 6-2 first set scoreline on Rod Laver Arena.

But nobody fights her way through matches like Serena Williams, and this match was no different.

The No.1-seeded Williams stayed even with Muguruza through 3-all in the second set before breaking away to take it, 6-3, and after digging her way out of an absolute marathon of an 0-1 service game in the third - she had to fight off six break points in that eight-deuce game - she started to roll, eventually finishing the No.24-seeded Spaniard off after exactly two hours on the clock, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

"It was a great match - congratulations to Garbiñe, she played so well," Williams said.

"She did everything she needed to do in the first set. For once I didn't start out slowly, she was just playing so well at the start. She hits the ball really, really big and really, really hard.

"But I started to focus from there and just relaxed a little bit."

During her on-court interview with Rennae Stubbs, Williams also thanked a special fan in the crowd.

"Someone in the crowd was like, 'Come on Serena, use spin!' Someone over here," she pointed.

The 18-time Grand Slam champion eventually located him.

"It was you! Thank you, thank you!" she said. "Thanks a lot, you really helped me!"

Awaiting Williams in the quarterfinals is No.11 seed Dominika Cibulkova, who battled to a three set victory against Victoria Azarenka earlier in the day (read more about that match here).

Williams has beaten Cibulkova in all four of their previous meetings, but one of those meetings - their fourth round clash at Miami in 2013 - could have easily gone the other way, an inspired Cibulkova storming out to a 6-2, 4-1 lead but Williams clawing back to take the match in three sets.

"She's a really good player," Williams said of Cibulkova.

"To be her size, she hits so hard and she plays so well. She's just a powerful, compact, great player. I just have to stay focused and not underestimate her. She actually almost beat me before.

"I want to make sure I come ready and prepared."