SERENA Williams says it will take more than a sore ankle to force her out of the Australian Open.
The crowd held its collective breath yesterday when the overwhelming favourite to take this year's title lay on the court in obvious pain after rolling her right ankle during the fifth game of the first set against Romanian Edina Gallovits-Hall.
After a lengthy delay while she had the ankle re-strapped, the No.3 seed returned to sweep her opponent off the court 6-0 6-0, despite clearly being concerned about the injury.
Williams went straight to the locker room for treatment after the match, but said later she would be ready for her second round match against Spain's Garbine Muguruza tomorrow.
"I haven't had enough time to assess it yet ... but I'll be out there. I mean, unless something fatal happens to me, there's no way I'm not going to be competing," she said.
"I'm alive. My heart's beating. I'll be fine."
Williams admitted she was in pain, and despite her confidence, said the full extent of the problem would not be known until today.
"Obviously there's pain. Obviously there's swelling. So it's going to be really important to see how the next few hours unfold," she said.
The American was hampered in last year's Australian Open after injuring the ankle in the Brisbane International.
She said her thoughts after rolling the ankle yesterday immediately went to Brisbane.
"It reminded me a lot of Brisbane. I thought, Oh, not again," she said.
"But, you know, I've had such a good year that I don't think it's anything negative. I just think that I was definitely a little bit in shock and I was thinking, I hope it's not as serious, because it was really serious last year."
If the 31-year-old does make it through the next few rounds, she is scheduled to meet No.6 seed Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals and last year's winner Victoria Azarenka in the semi-finals.
Williams was seeded 12 last year after an injury-interrupted 18 months, and lost to Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-2 6-3 in the fourth round.
Her previous loss in Melbourne had come against Jelena Jankovic in the quarter-finals in 2008, although she missed the tournament in 2011.