Serena powers through in Melbourne

Powerful serves help the top-seed seal a straight-sets win in the opening round; Azarenka, Venus also ease through.

    Serena is a five-time champion at the Australian Open [EPA]
    Serena is a five-time champion at the Australian Open [EPA]

    Serena Williams was dragged into a second set scrap by unheralded Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck but put down the minor threat with some powerful serving to reach the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-0 6-4 win.

    Having roared through the first set, Williams was on the back foot as the 106th-ranked 20-year-old went for broke, attacking the world number one's serve and pushing her behind the baseline.

    However, Williams held firm and crunched an imperious backhand winner on return to seal the contest as her opponent served to stay in the match.

    Earlier, Victoria Azarenka continued her love affair with the bright blue courts of Melbourne Park as the unseeded two-time former champion cruised to a 6-3 6-2 first-round victory over Sloane Stephens.

    Azarenka, 25, showed she will be a dangerous floater in the draw after being unseeded at a grand slam for the first time since the 2007 US Open following a run of injuries that restricted her to just nine tournaments last year.

    She will take on former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, who eventually outfought American teenager Taylor Townsend 7-6, 6-2.

    Other results (selected):

    Anna Tatishvili (U.S.) beat Kimiko Date-Krumm (Japan) 7-5 6-4

    Camila Giorgi (Italy) beat 12-Flavia Pennetta (Italy) 4-6 6-2 6-3

    30-Varvara Lepchenko (U.S.) beat Vitalia Diatchenko (Russia) 6-3 6-3

    6-Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) beat Kurumi Nara (Japan) 6-3 6-0

    18-Venus Williams (U.S.) beat Maria Teresa Torro (Spain) 6-2 6-2

    Timea Bacsinszky (Switzerland) beat 15-Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) 6-1 6-4

    Madison Brengle (U.S.) beat 13-Andrea Petkovic (Germany) 5-7 7-6(4) 6-3

    4-Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) beat Richel Hogenkamp (Netherlands) 6-1 6-4

    11-Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) beat Kirsten Flipkens (Belgium) 3-6 6-3 6-1 

    SOURCE: Reuters


     How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

    How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

    Ninety-nine years since Balfour's "promise", Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed.

    Afghan asylum seekers resort to sex work in Athens

    Afghan asylum seekers resort to sex work in Athens

    In the rundown Pedion Areos Park, older men walk slowly by young asylum seekers before agreeing on a price for sex.

    Profile: Osama bin Laden

    Profile: Osama bin Laden

    The story of a most-wanted fugitive and billionaire.