Australian Open: Serena's 24th Grand Slam Quest continues in Melbourne

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Serena Williams is the company's favorite to win the Australian Open, when she returns to dispute the 24th Grand Slam title with the same record.

The 38-year-old American intends to match the record set in 1973 by Margaret Court of Australia, which will be recognized at the tournament on the 50th anniversary of her Grand Slam calendar.

Williams has not won a Grand Slam title since the 2017 Australian Open, when she was eight weeks pregnant.

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Since returning from maternity leave in March 2018, she has reached four Grand Slam finals – two at Wimbledon and two at the U.S. Open – losing them all. But she enters this tournament as the favorite, having rediscovered how to win a final.

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Williams won Auckland International on Sunday, defeating American Jessica Pegula in the final to lift her first trophy in nearly three years.

"It's been a long time; I think you can see the relief on my face – she said.

Williams' drought helped to open up the game for women; The 11 Grand Slams of the last 11 produced nine different winners, in a period in which seven players occupy the number one ranking in the world.

Old guard Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are expected to be the men to beat in Melbourne, while Andy Murray, former world number one in Britain, is absent due to a pelvic injury.

The first Grand Slam of the 2020 season is scheduled to go ahead, as planned, despite the backdrop of wildfires that have devastated parts of Australia.

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