We arrive, once again, at a Grand Slam tennis tournament with the women's game as unpredictable as ever.
It's been five years since Serena Williams last won one of the Big Four titles, and her 23rd Slam success is now looking increasingly likely to be her last.
Since Serena (who turned 40 last September) won at Melbourne Park in 2017, the 18 subsequent Slams have been shared among 13 players.
Apart from Naomi Osaka, who this time last year was the undisputed queen of women's tennis, the sport has thrown up plenty of surprise champions and finalists during the past 15 months.
Paris 2020: World No 54 Iga Swiatek, 19, won the French Open without dropping a set.
Paris 2021: Unseeded Barbora Krejcikova beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (No 31 seed) in a three-set final.
US Open 2021: Qualifier Emma Raducanu, 18, playing in only her second Grand Slam tournament, defeated Leylah Fernandez who was also ranked outside the world's top 70 when she arrived at Flushing Meadows.
Even Sofia Kenin, who won Down Under in what was the last pre-Covid Slam in January 2020, was only seeded No 14.
More recently, Osaka has won two hard court Slams beating players from outside the world's top 20.
In the 2020 US Open final she faced the unseeded Victoria Azarenka and, a few months later, outplayed the No 22 seed Jennifer Brady in Melbourne.
Of the most recent seven Grand Slam finals, the only match to feature two players ranked inside the world's top eight came at Wimbledon last year when top seed Ashleigh Barty beat No 8 Karolina Pliskova in three sets.
As for the Australia Open, which begins next Monday in Melbourne, there is no shortage of potential champions.
Among those to have withdrawn from the tournament are Wimbledon runner-up Pliskova, last year's beaten finalist Brady, former US Open champ Bianca Andreescu, as well as Serena Williams who was an unlikely starter anyway.
Check out the latest betting for the women's singles in Melbourne
Who are the main contenders for the first Slam of 2022?
Ashleigh Barty: The top seed was an impressive winner of the WTA Tour event in Adelaide last week. She is chasing a third career Grand Slam but will face the added pressure of trying to win on home soil. Has reached the Last Eight in each of her most recent three Aussie Opens, but is yet to play in the final.
Simona Halep: Missed out on defending her Wimbledon crown last year because of injury. Has opened 2022 by winning a tournament in Australia and is a former runner-up in the Melbourne Slam.
Garbine Muguruza: Enjoying a renaissance and back up to No 3 in the world thanks to her victory at last year's WTA Tour Finals in Mexico - which was her biggest title since winning Wimbledon in 2017. Lost in the Melbourne final two years ago and was beaten by eventual winner Osaka in 2021 - after holding match point in the final set.
Naomi Osaka: Despite her meltdown in Paris last year, when she withdrew from the tournament after saying she didn't wish to talk to the media, the world No 14 can never be underestimated on hard court. All of her four Slam titles have been won on this surface, including twice in Melbourne where she is the defending champion. Could face Barty in round four (Last 16).
Aryna Sabalenka: The No 2 seed reached the semi-finals at both Wimbledon and New York last year.
Maria Sakkari: Is a career-high No 6 in the world after reaching the semi-finals in Paris and New York during 2021. In her match against eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova, the 26-year-old from Greece held a match point before losing 9-7 in the final set at Roland Garros.
Click here to view 10-year form at Melbourne Park
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