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'I knew it wasn't going to be easy' - Serena Williams wins Aryna Sabalenka battle in Melbourne

Serena Williams serve

Serena Williams expressed her relief after battling her way through to the Australian Open quarterfinals against Aryna Sabalenka.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner was made to work immensely hard by Sabalenka, who dominated the second set and was incredibly powerful throughout.

Serena, though, was able to keep her focus and she finished the stronger to secure her spot in the last eight.

“I am happy to get through that one, I knew it wasn’t go to be easy,” Williams said.

“She was teeing off on every shot. I felt like I was there but some shots I felt like I was missing.

"The games that I lost [were] super close – one shot here and one shot here. I said to myself: ‘Serena you are so close, you have to keep going’.”

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Serena also paid tribute to her sister Venus Williams, who was in her box giving her support.

“It helps a great deal having Venus around is amazing,” she said.

“Not just now, in the twilight of our careers. Also in the beginning. It’s so cool.

"Because no one really understands. No one understands the level of intensity or the pressure or the losses or the wins unless it is someone else in the locker room.”

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