Top seed and world No. 1-ranked tennis player Serena Williams is at the Australian Open but if she’s going to win, she’ll need to do it without a key member of her team. She told reporters yesterday that Aleksandar “Big Sascha” Bajin is “away on injury reserve right now.”

Sharing with reporters that “He texts me almost every day,” Williams says he asks what she’s doing and who’s there, and he says he wishes he were better, to the point where she says “I’m like, ‘Gosh, leave me alone already.’ He’s super bummed out.”

Bajin has been a key person on the team Williams has built around her on her rise to tennis success and fame. Over the eight years “Big Sascha” has been Williams’ hitting partner they’ve developed a brother-sister relationship. Williams has said that “Outside of my parents, I think he’s probably the most important person on the team. He’s much more than a hitting partner. He’s my older brother. He’s family.”

With the Open scheduled to open on Monday, Williams’ daily routine will be altered, saying “It definitely changes it a lot.” She has trusted her French coach Patrick Mouratoglou to find her a new hitting partner in the person of Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy. A left-handed 28-year old, he’s a former world No. 146 who retired in 2013 and was a practice partner for Novak Djokovic at last year’s French Open.

Monday also marks Williams’ 100th consecutive week as No. 1 in the Women’s Tennis Rankings. The Australian Open is the first major Grand Slam tournament of the year and even though “Big Sascha” won’t be there, Williams will to win will be as focused as ever on her goal to win her 19th Grand Slam singles title, telling reporters “I want it more than anyone here.”

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