The last year has been a difficult one for 12-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams. She was unable to play in the 2011 Australian Open due to a foot injury and was unable to win any of the subsequent Grand Slams. She made it to the final of the 2011 U.S. Open, but that match against Samantha Stosur will be more remembered for Williams' verbal abuse of the chair umpire than the play of either player. She anticipated coming into the 2012 Australian Open healthy and ready to compete for a title, but suffered a setback in early January.
While playing in the Brisbane Open two weeks ago, Williams suffered a sprained ankle in her match against Daniela Hantuchova. She finished and won the match while injured, but was forced to withdraw from the tournament in the semifinals. She's currently healthy enough to play, but her sprained ankle still requires constant treatment and it wouldn't be surprising to see Williams at less than her absolute best.
Williams has played just two matches since that U.S. Open final loss, and she didn't get the easiest possible draw. She takes on Tamira Paszek on Day 2, a 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinalist currently ranked No. 43 in the world. Williams will be favored to win, but it will be interesting to see how her ankle and lack of recent matches affects her.