Serena pulls away from the pack

When the latest women's world rankings are released on Monday, they will still paint a picture of a group of clustered players with little to choose between them, all fighting for the top spot.

However, the Australian Open has shown beyond all doubt that the idea of equality in the women's game is an utter fallacy: Serena Williams is head and shoulders above the pack, with a level of dominance that shows no sign of abating.

A crushing 6-0, 6-3 victory over Dinara Safina in the final at Melbourne Park sealed a return to the No. 1 ranking for Williams and clinched her 10th Grand Slam title. The nature of the performance made it inevitable that, already, talk would turn to another potential "Serena Slam."

In 2002, Williams won the last three Grand Slam tournaments of the year, then took the 2003 Australian Open

meaning she held all four majors at once. Only five women have ever accomplished that feat, and Williams, having won last year's U.S. Open, is halfway to doing it again.

Completing the task will be no simple matter. Williams' 2002 French Open victory remains the only time she has lifted the trophy on Paris' red clay, while the most recent of her two Wimbledon successes came in 2003.

Yet the mental grip she now appears to have over her rivals is a critical factor, and with her motivation levels fully restored, there could be no stopping her this year.

While the Williams sisters have often seemed to be nudging toward retirement and focusing on interests outside of tennis, such thoughts are now far removed.

"I feel like I could go forever," Serena said after demolishing Safina. "I definitely feel like I have so many years to play."

That comment won't please the likes of Safina, Jelena Jankovic or Ana Ivanovic. Those women felt their time was approaching.

But events Down Under showed this is still very much Serena time.

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