Australian Open 2013: Serena Williams' Injured Ankle Won't Keep Her from Title

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Australian Open 2013: Serena Williams' Injured Ankle Won't Keep Her from Title
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Serena Williams' most challenging obstacle at the 2013 Australian Open will likely be the ankle she injured during first-round play, but even that won't stop her.

She showed poise, toughness and maturity fighting through the painful distraction en route to a 6-0, 6-0 rout of Romania's Edina Gallovits-Hall. I expect her to employ the same qualities throughout the tournament.

Williams is only seeded third in Melbourne, but the top players have to realize she is the one to beat.

Coming off a stellar 2012 that saw her go 58-6 in major events, which included singles titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and a gold medal in the Summer Olympics, Williams is primed for a strong 2013.

What appears to be a minor ankle injury won't slow her down.

When Williams is 100 percent focused as she was through most of 2012, she is head and shoulders above the rest of the women in the sport.

The injury did create some tense moments, though.

Per CBS News, the incident frightened Williams. According to her it seemed to bring back some bad memories.

She said this after the match:

I think I was really, really close to panicking because a very similar thing happened to me last year, almost on the same side, the same shot. I just had to really remain calm and think things through.

The injury she suffered in 2012 likely played a part in her disappointing performance at last year's Australian Open. Despite being a five-time champion, she exited in the fourth round in 2012. It was her earliest exit at the Australian Open since 2006.

Perhaps a less-mature and less-focused Williams would have allowed Tuesday's injury to derail her, but not at this stage of her legendary career. Williams has seen a lot in her 17-year career. She handles adversity well now.

Spain's Garbine Muguruza is next up for Williams, but she doesn't figure to fare much better than Gallovits-Hall. Muguruza barely escaped her first-round match with Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova.

Facing Williams will be a huge step up in competition, to say the least.

With a day off for Williams to heal, she'll be back as dominant as ever for her match with Muguruza and beyond. Barring something unforeseen, when this tournament is done, Williams will be celebrating her sixth Australian Open title.

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