'This is going to be fun': Serena Williams lays down US Open marker with rout of Maria Sharapova

A stone-faced Sharapova was left to ponder a 6-1, 6-1 drubbing for her 19th consecutive loss to her opponent

When Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova meet on court there is usually only one outcome - a Williams win.

The two longtime rivals met in the first round of the US Open where the American extended her head-to-head record against the Russian. But none of Williams' previous 19 wins felt as impressive as this rout.

A stone-faced Sharapova was left to ponder a 6-1, 6-1 drubbing for her 19th consecutive loss to her opponent.

Williams, bidding to equal Margaret Court's Open record of 24 grand slams, proved once again she has all the answers when the pair meet on court. She delivered one of her most complete performances since returning to the game after the birth of her daughter, needing less than an hour to send Sharapova packing.

"I thought she served really well. Found her spots really well. Didn't feel like we got into too many long rallies," a dejected Sharapova said. "I think the 1-2 punch. She won a majority of those points."

Williams, seeded eighth, has not dropped a set to the 32-year-old Sharapova since the Miami Open in 2013.

Sharapova, who was banned for 15 months for taking the banned drug meldonium in 2016, struggled with injuries earlier this year, including persistent shoulder problems that have plagued her in the past.

The five-times grand slam champion underwent surgery for her right shoulder that caused her to miss the Miami Open.

"I missed a lot of this year with my shoulder. Just getting the routines back and being back in the draws is, you know, it's tough to talk about after a defeat, but it's a long road," Sharapova said.

"It's facing an opponent that's at her stature is extremely difficult in the first round of a slam, coming in with the fact that I haven't played that much."

Williams win sent out a strong message to the rest of the field that she is ready to win what is proving an elusive grand slam No 24. The biggest question for the 37-year-old, who suffered a meltdown at last year's US Open final when losing to Naomi Osaka, was whether she was physically up for the challenge of her home slam.

Back spasms forced her to withdrew from the Rogers Cup final in Toronto earlier this month and skip the Cincinnati Masters but she put those doubts to rest with a brilliant performance under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"The body is good, I feel good. My back is a lot better. So I'm excited, this is going to be fun," she said.

While insisting she was undergoing an intense training regime under coach Patrick Mouratoglou in an effort to win a seventh US Open and a first since 2014, Williams said switching off from the pressures of the court to spend time with her daughter was just as rewarding.

"I play with my baby, I'm obsessed with my daughter," she said.

"We were at the fair the other day so maybe we'll go back. But that's what I do to relax. I come out here and I have such a great opportunity to play this sport in front of you guys and then I feel even more blessed to come home to my family."

"It's the best."

Williams is trying hard to move past last year's US Open final meltdown, preferring to forget the umpire she called a "liar" and "thief" and fans booing a controversial ending.

It was the first match for Williams at Ashe since she unleashed her wrath at umpire Carlos Ramos in last year's final and he awarded a game penalty to eventual winner Osaka of Japan, this year's top seed.

The US Tennis Association decided before the start that Ramos will not officiate any Serena or Venus Williams match at this year's US Open.

When she was asked about Ramos, whose penalty calls had a major impact in her loss to Osaka, Williams replied, "I don't know who that is."

Next up for Williams is a second-round meeting with American teenager Caty McNally on Wednesday.

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