Former world No. 1 Serena Williams is hoping she can maintain her unbeaten run as she clocked up her 16th straight victory to reach the third round at the German Open on Tuesday.
The eight-times Grand Slam winner had few problems in her second-round match against Italian Francesca Schiavone when she claimed a 6-2, 6-3 win in just one hour, 11 minutes.
Williams, currently ranked sixth in the world, has not been beaten since she lost to Jelena Jankovic in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open at the start of the year.
After winning the Bangalore and Miami tournaments on hard courts since she was defeated in Australia, Williams also won the Charleston tournament on clay last month and she is the woman to beat in Berlin.
Even world No. 1 Justine Henin was hammered by Williams in Miami last month when the Belgian was beaten 6-2, 6-0 in emphatic style in the quarter-finals.
“I just want to keep my winning streak,” Williams said. “I love playing here, especially on clay, I can slide a lot more. It means I don’t have to move up to the ball and I can be a bit more lazy.”
Williams has never won in Berlin and this is her first appearance in the German capital since 2002, when she lost in the final to Henin.
With a reputation for being as difficult to deal with off the court as she is to beat on it, Williams was asked by a German journalist if she regarded herself as a “diva.”
“Divas normally make unreasonable demands on people and I don’t think I do that, or maybe I do and I don’t realize it,” she said.
When asked how many suitcases she had brought to Berlin, in true diva style she answered: “I can’t answer that question, maybe I am [a diva]!”
The US player is now likely to face 11th seed Agnieszka Radwanska from Poland, who played German Angelika Bachmann in the second round yesterday for a place in the quarter-finals.
All three seeds involved in second-round games made it through on Tuesday as seventh-seed Elena Dementieva from Russia saw off Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko with an untroubled 6-1, 6-2 win.
And earlier in the day, French eighth-seed Marion Bartoli had few problems as she enjoyed a quick 6-0, 6-3 win over Lucie Safarova from the Czech Republic.
The only seed to bow out was Switzerland’s Patty Schnyder, seeded ninth, who was beaten by Vera Dushevina from Russia 6-2, 6-3 in the first round.
Bartoli is now the only Frenchwoman left in the competition following a black Monday for Gallic hopes.
Former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, who won the German Open in 2001 and 2004, pulled out of the tournament late on Monday because of pain in the muscles between her ribs caused by a coughing fit.
And Tatiana Golovin, ranked 21st in the world, suffered a first-round defeat in only her second tournament back after a 10-week break in which she had surgery to remove a cyst that was causing back pain.