If anything, it was the insects buzzing around Rod Laver Arena that bugged Serena Williams the most.

The injured left ankle held up fine in her opening match on Tuesday at the Australian Open, and even the near-midnight start time was OK. But the bugs?

“I hate bugs more than you can imagine,” Williams said after reaching the second round by beating Tamira Paszek 6-3, 6-2. “Like, they kept jumping on me. Yuck!”

The match started at 11.32 p.m., and Williams hit a service winner 1 hour, 19 minutes later to finish it off. In between points, though, she picked up and moved or shooed away bugs that landed on court, and two that landed on her back. A big one gave her a fright, making her hop as she tried to stifle a screech.

“I’m going to request not to play at night anymore because I hate bugs, except for the final. I heard it’s at night,” Williams said. “I’ll try to get used to them.”

The late start was because Williams had to wait until the conclusion of a 4-hour men’s night match won by Leyton Hewitt. And it was her first match since badly spraining her ankle two weeks ago at the Brisbane International, an injury that jeopardised her participation in Melbourne.

“I don’t let anything bother me,” she said. “It’s definitely different to have the ladies play so late, you know, so we’ll see.”

Williams was playing only her third match since losing the U.S. Open final to Sam Stosur last September, so she admitted being “a wee bit tight.” “Physically I felt fine. I was definitely moving better than I suspected,” Williams said. “I still think I can move better, though, and just get that confidence.

“I definitely think it was good because I moved a lot and I challenged myself a lot. She made a few drop shots. She really pushed me physically. I think that’s really something I needed to kind of feel and assess my ankle.”

Keywords: Australian Open

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