Serena beats Sharapova for 19th Slam
A DELIGHTED Serena Williams paid tribute to her family and her humble beginnings after making history with her 19th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Saturday.
Serena Williams won her 19th Grand Slam title, continued her unbeaten run in six Australian Open finals and extended her decade-long domination of Maria Sharapova with a 6-3, 7-6 (5) win on Saturday.
After celebrating prematurely on her third match point, letting her racket go after serving what she thought was an ace but learning that it was a let, top-ranked Williams took a deep breath and fired another ace — her 15th of the set and 18th of the match — to seal it.
This time, the celebration was real. She jumped around like a little child, bouncing up and down, before shaking hands with Sharapova at the net.
The American world number one, who grew up in the gritty Los Angeles neighbourhood of Compton, said it felt amazing to win her 19th Grand Slam with a hard-fought 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) victory over Russia’s Maria Sharapova
“Growing up I wasn’t the richest but I had a rich family in spirit and support and standing here with 19 championships is something I never thought would happen,” the 33-year-old said.
“I went on the courts with just a ball and a racquet and hope and that’s all I had.”
Williams, who is now three majors behind Steffi Graf’s all-time Open-era Grand Slam winners’ record of 22, said her desire to win was as strong as ever.
“I think I get more joy now, there were times in the match where I just smiled because I’m so happy to be out there competing,” added the newly-crowned, six-time Australian champion, who has overcome serious illness during her career.
Williams said she struggled at times against Sharapova after battling a cold for much of the tournament, particularly during a rain break in the first set.
“I had a really bad cough and I ended up throwing up,” she said. “I was able to clear my chest out because I couldn’t breath a little bit.”
She also revealed she had the jitters trying to close out the match in the second set after Sharapova held off two match points.
“I get more nervous now and I can’t work out why,” she said. “In that tie-break I missed some shots, I was embarrassed, I was like ‘Serena serve it out, serve it out’.”
Asked how she would celebrate a win that takes her Grand Slam tally past legends Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, both on 18, she said she planned to “take a deep breath and lay down”.
“I’m going to go to bed, I’m going to curl up under some covers and I’m going to go to sleep, I’m not feeling the best,” she said.
“I just had a really bad cold and a really bad cough (during the tournament).
“Usually when that happens you stay in bed for a week, you don’t play matches every other day and practice every day, so I haven’t been able to get better.”