Venus Williams, paint-splattered dress and all, continues to defy the odds. Just over a year after revealing she suffers from Sjögren's syndrome, an auto-immune disease, the former world No.1 is through to the third round at Melbourne Park after a 6-3 6-3 dismissal of Frenchwoman Alize Cornet at Rod Laver Arena.
Leaping from steak-lover to vegan has not been easy for the seven-time Grand Slam champion, but she has taken it in her stride, winning her first title in two and a half years in Luxembourg last October.
And, back in Melbourne after being forced to miss Australian Open 2012, Serena’s older sister means business.
But, despite the straight sets scoreline, despite producing 17 winners to Cornet’s five, despite breaking serve on five of six opportunities, being Venus, she still wasn’t entirely satisfied.
“If I execute my game, the result is good,” Williams said. “But it feels good to play like you practice and the things that you train. So if I don't do that, then I don't feel as successful.
“Today I don't think I was hitting as many winners as the first round,” she added. “But at the end I always felt like I was in control, so that's always a good feeling.”
While Cornet did her best to offer up resistance, albeit meekly, Venus’s next task will be tougher - a third round against Maria Sharapova. But even though the second seed blistered past Japan’s Misaki Doi 6-0 6-0, it takes more than a scoreline to rattle Venus.
“I don't think about things that way. There's going to be days when you play great and win, and there's going to be days when you play not as great and you win,” she said.
“Whatever day that is, you have to win. It's not about for me I have to play perfect every match. I don't have that mentality.”
On paper, Williams knows she is the underdog. But again, that is not something she dwells on. She has been in both places before.
“I know I'm not the highest seed, so I realise I'm probably going to have to play someone and someone is going to have to play me,” she said. “That's pretty much what it is.
“I don't focus on the best game. I focus on just trying to play my best, no matter if it's the best game or not the best game.“ Don’t miss it.
As for her dress? It was inspired by hot fries.
“I don't know why. It's just always been part of the design," she revealed. "When I design, I eat hot fries. They are so spicy, and I just keep eating 'em and it hurts. I just pop 'em away. ”
Venus Williams. Always unexpected.