( dpa )- Serena Williams confessed that her female ego has been slightly bruised as she watches new mum Lindsay Davenport storm through a comeback that has carried the 31-year-old back to the Australian Open.
Davenport, who had retired from tennis, gave birth in June only to rediscover her love for the game. The American has won titles at three of four events she has played since September.
"I'm speechless," said Williams who has slimmed down by 6 kilograms prior to the start of her title defence , which starts Monday.
"She looks better than me, and she's seven months out of having a baby. I'm convinced if I had a baby, seven months later I'd probably still be in the hospital trying to get over the pain."
Williams, an American who won the 2007 Australian Open from a standing start after coming in out of shape and presumably out of title contention, called Davenport "my ultimate role model."
"I'm really so motivated," said the winner of last week's Hopman Cup alongside Mardy Fish. "She's just taken it to a new level. Honestly, I'm really speechless."
Williams has done some hard yards of her own, arriving in Australia at the New Year for the Hopman mixed teams event in Perth, then training this week at Melbourne park.
She has pulled her ranking back to seventh from the 80s a year ago, and goes into her opening match against Jarmila Gajdosova , a newly naturalized Australian.
"I don't feel any pressure at all. I feel just excited to be here. I don't feel like, Oh, my God, I have to win, win, win," said Williams. "I just feel like I'm having so much fun every day."
Williams played her usual light autumn schedule in 2007, competing in only 10 matches after the US Open, after losing a New York quarter-final to Justine Henin .
But even with the chance to move back toward the number one ranking she once held, Williams is not keen on over-playing.
"I figure if I play well in a solid amount of tournaments, I'll be able to take that ranking. I've never been the type of player that has to play 20 tournaments to get to number one, or 30."
But she warned: "My body will allow anything, really. It's ready for anything."