Serena wins Australian Open, 19th Grand Slam
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – 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) victory despite a hacking cough on Saturday night.
After celebrating prematurely on her third match point, letting her racket go before hearing a let call to what she thought was an ace, Williams had to quickly re-gather her composure.
Top-ranked Williams took a deep breath and fired another ace – her 15th of the set and 18th of the match – and 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.
“I’m so honoured to be here tonight and to hold this 19th trophy at my favourite stadium,” Williams said.
The 33-year-old Williams became the oldest winner of the Australian women’s title in the Open era and moved into outright second place on the list of major winners in the Open era, behind only Steffi Graf’s 22.
Still affected by a recent cold, Williams controlled the first set around a rain delay in the sixth game, when play was stopped for 13 minutes for the roof to be closed. Williams came back on court momentarily near the end of the break, but returned to the locker room.
“I had a really bad cough, I ended up throwing up, actually. I think that helped me when I got it out,” Williams said. “I’ve just got a really bad cold, a really bad cough. Usually when that happens you stay in bed, you don’t play matches every day.”
Williams now has won 16 in a row and is 17-2 in career matches against Sharapova, who hasn’t won a head-to-head meeting since 2004.
“I haven’t beaten her in a long time but I love every time I step on the court with her,” said Sharapova, who had to save two match points in the second round. “I’ve had some of the best memories of my career on this court and also some of my toughest losses, but that’s the life of a tennis player.”
Road to the finals
Serena Williams (1)
First Round — def. Alison Van Uytvanck, 6-0, 6-4.
Second Round — def. Vera Zvonareva, 7-5, 6-0.
Third Round — def. Elina Svitolina (26), 4-6, 6-2, 6-0.
Fourth Round — def. Garbine Muguruza (24), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Quarter-finals — def. Dominika Cibulkova (11), 6-2, 6-2.
Semi-finals — def. Madison Keys, 7-6 (5), 6-2.
Championship — def. Maria Sharapova (2) 6-3, 7-6 (5)
Maria Sharapova (2)
First Round — def. Petra Martic, 6-4, 6-1.
Second Round — def. Alexandra Panova, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5.
Third Round — def. Zarina Diyas (31), 6-1, 6-1.
Fourth Round — def. Peng Shuai (21), 6-3, 6-0.
Quarter-finals — def. Eugenie Bouchard (7), 6-3, 6-2.
Semi-finals — def. Ekaterina Makarova (10), 6-3, 6-2.
Championship — lost to Serena Williams (1) 3-6, 6-7 (5)