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Serena, Milos Raonic Celebrate Tom Brady as "Super Inspiring"

By Richard Pagliaro

Serena Williams showed strong closing skills—and confessed to Super Bowl obsession—following her dynamic Australian Open return.

The seven-time AO champion charged through 10 consecutive games crushing US Open doubles champion Laura Siegemund in a commanding Melbourne opener.

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Sporting a multi-colored catsuit featuring one full-length leg and one short leg, a smiling Serena called the performance "Vintage Rena" afterward.

If Williams looked like a woman going places that's because she was.

Immediately after the match, the 39-year-old superstar said she was eager to get back to the locker room to watch Tom Brady lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. It was Brady's seventh Super Bowl championship.

Serena, who is a minority owner of the Miami Dolphins, said the 43-year-old Brady continues inspiring her.

"Tom Brady is in my age group so it's exciting—he's not in my age group he's above my age group," Williams said afterward. "He's amazing to be competing for us one of the biggest championships in the world at 43 is unheard of.

"He's super inspiring for me at my ripe young age of 30-something."

It was a statement day for two icons widely regarded as the GOAT of their respective sports.

"It's unbelievable to win again just makes you know that it wasn't the system he was in before it's him. He's a great athlete," Serena told ESPN afterward. "Not only that his ability to motivate his team and his coaches and everyone in Tampa Bay just shows you can take a champion anywhere and they'll continue to do well. That's what Tom Brady did today."

The four-time Olympic gold-medal champion knows football. Williams frequently warms up for service in practice sessions by tossing a football around.

Serena and sister Venus once appeared with former NFL quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Eli Manning in an Oreo cookie campaign and later gave the Manning brothers a tennis lesson. Serena starred in this Nintendo spot that aired during tonight's Super Bowl.

Milos Raonic, who scored a straight-sets win in his AO opener tonight, said he's inspired by a pair of 40-somethings: Venus Williams and Tom Brady.

"I think I look up to a lot of athletes that have done incredible things," Raonic said. "I think Tom for a lot of people has a pretty special example just because he wasn't the kid prodigy that sort of went on to do the great things he's done.

"I think a lot of people can reference that. I wasn't necessarily by any means, by stretch of the imagination, one of the best juniors, but I kept plugging away just to try to be better and better each day. It came together for me. I think a lot of people appreciate that aspect about it."

Former world No. 1 Venus swept Kirsten Flipkens in her opener, which was her record-extending 88th Grand Slam singles appearance.

Seven-time Slam champion's Venus' passion for play inspires Raonic.

"[Venus] takes it incredibly seriously," Raonic said. "She by no means doesn't have to be out on tour other than her own desires and her own passion for the sport.

"I think a lot of people can draw a lot of inspiration from that. She's here, she's constantly here because she loves it. She'll take whatever opportunity and try to really make the most of it, give it her all. It's always a plus seeing her around. I'm sure both sisters appreciate having each other around."

Photo credit: Tennis Australia/Rob Prezioso