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    Serena Williams has grand plans this season

    Serena Williams gets in some table tennis before the start of the Australian Open Monday.
    scott barbour/getty images
    Serena Williams gets in some table tennis before the start of the Australian Open Monday.

    MELBOURNE — No woman has come close to rivaling Serena Williams since she finished off her self-titled Serena Slam — capturing four consecutive major championships — by winning at Melbourne Park in 2003.

    No woman since has even come close to that. But after winning Wimbledon and the US Open last year, Williams appears to be poised for another dominant run, one that has her entertaining thoughts of a calendar year Grand Slam in 2013, starting with the Australian Open on Monday.

    ‘‘I think for me, absolutely,’’ Williams replied when asked if a Grand Slam is possible this year.


    Williams cites one stinging loss in Paris as the motivation behind her recent string of success.

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    After a shocking upset loss to Virginie Razzano, then ranked No. 111, at the French Open last May — her only first-round defeat in a Grand Slam in 14 seasons on the tour — Williams rebounded to win titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics, the US Open, and the season-ending WTA Championships.

    She finished 2012 with a 58-4 record, losing only once after June, and with a title at the Brisbane International last week has extended her run to 35 wins in her last 36 matches.

    In that time, she has beaten No. 1-ranked Victoria Azarenka four times, including at the US Open final in which she saved two match points. She was 5-0 against Azarenka in 2012 and is 11-1 against her overall.

    ‘‘Yeah, but I also lost in the first round of a Grand Slam and she didn’t,’’ Williams said. ‘‘I think that’s what really affected me.’’


    On the men’s side, the novelty of being the first British man to win a Grand Slam title in 76 years is about to give way to the reality of being a reigning major winner.

    It’s just another reason Andy Murray has found to keep Ivan Lendl in his corner.

    Murray’s career-changing win at the US Open in September came shortly after his breakthrough win at the London Olympics.

    The 25-year-old Scot said it was the most intense three months of his life. He’s had time to celebrate the win and dwell on its significance, and now he is days away from his first Grand Slam event since, and at a venue where he has twice lost in the final.

    Murray’s biggest obstacles to a second Grand Slam remain top-ranked Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Roger Federer.