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Serena Williams defeats Daria Gavrilova in Yarra Valley Classic

Serena Williams stepped up preparations for another tilt at a 24th Grand Slam title with a straight-sets victory over home hope Daria Gavrilova in the Yarra Valley Classic Monday.

Playing her first match in more than four months, Williams hit the ground running in a 6-1 6-4 second-round victory at the Australian Open warm-up event on Monday.

“I felt that I was composed and in the zone. Just trying to do the things that I’ve been working on,” she said in an on-court interview.

Williams, who hasn’t won a slam since beating sister Venus in the 2017 Australian Open final while pregnant with her daughter Olympia, next plays Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova for a quarter-final spot.

Gavrilova, ranked 451, was overmatched against her idol but used her speed around the court to make Williams work harder in a more competitive second set.

Williams, looking to get matches under her belt before embarking on another bid for a record-equalling 24th major singles title, will next play Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria in the round of 16.

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