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Tennis: Australian Open women's penpix

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Penpix for the world's top four women ahead of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, where the first Grand Slam of the 2015 season starts on Monday:

SERENA WILLIAMS (USA)

World ranking: 1

Birthdate: September 26, 1981

Birthplace: Saginaw, Michigan, USA

Residence: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA

Height: 5ft 9in (1.75m)

Weight: 155lbs (70kg)

Plays: Right-handed

Turned pro: 1995

Coach: Richard Williams/Patrick Mouratoglou

Career titles: 64

Grand Slam singles titles: 18

Career prize money: $63,500,779

Best Australian Open result: Champion (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010)

The evergreen American, 33, has won five of her 18 Grand Slam titles in Australia and is short-priced favourite to claim a sixth this year after winning seven WTA titles in 2014, including the US Open. Despite some erratic early season form in the Hopman Cup, Williams has a combination of power and intensity when on song that is perfectly suited to the Melbourne Park cauldron.

MARIA SHARAPOVA (RUS)

World ranking: 2

Birthdate: April 19, 1987

Birthplace: Nyagan, Russia

Residence: Bradenton, Florida, USA

Height: 6ft 2in (1.88m)

Weight: 130lbs (59kg)

Plays: Right-handed

Turned pro: 2001

Coach: Sven Groeneveld

Career singles titles: 34

Grand Slam singles titles: 5

Career prize money: $32,730,228

Best Australian Open result: Champion (2008)

The glamorous Russian remains the biggest earner in women's sport and will again be a star attraction in Melbourne, where she has reached the final three times, winning in 2008. The 27-year-old enjoyed a strong 2014, finally overcoming a nagging shoulder injury to claim her fifth Grand Slam at the French Open. Appears full of confidence after starting 2015 with a convincing win in the Brisbane International final over Ana Ivanovic.

SIMONA HALEP (ROM)

World ranking: 3

Born: September 27, 1991

Birthplace: Constanta, Romania

Residence: Constanta, Romania

Height: 5ft, 6in (1.68m)

Weight: 132lbs (60kg)

Plays: Right-handed

Turned pro: 2006

Coach: Victor Ionita/Thomas Hogstedt

Career singles titles: 9

Grand Slam singles titles: 0

Career prize money: $6,670,571

Best Australian Open result: Quarter-final (2014)

The hard-hitting 23-year-old is looking to build on a breakthrough season in 2014, when she reached the French Open final and the semi-finals at Wimbledon. The Romanian has hired Swiss Thomas Hogstedt -- former mentor to Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki and Li Na -- as a coaching consultant for the Australian Open and opened her 2015 season with a blistering win in the Shenzhen Open for her ninth WTA title.

PETRA KVITOVA (CZE)

World ranking: 4

Born: March 8, 1990

Birthplace: Bilovec, Czech Republic

Residence: Monte Carlo

Height: 6ft (1.82m)

Weight: 154lbs (70kg)

Plays: Left-handed

Turned pro: 2006

Coach: David Kotyza

Career singles titles: 14

Grand Slam singles titles: 2

Career prize money: $17,132,188

Best Australian Open result: Semi-final (2012)

Kvitova was thrust back into the limelight with her second career Wimbledon triumph last year but needs to improve at other Grand Slams to avoid being seen as a grass court specialist. Has only advanced beyond the second round once in five appearances at the Australian Open and a first-round exit last year suggests she still struggles on the hard surfaces of Melbourne Park.

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