(January 31, 2015) Serena Williams moved up on the all-time list of Grand Slam title holders beating Maria Sharapova 6-3, 7-6 (5) to win her sixth Australian Open title on Saturday night. It’s the 33-year-old’s 19th major, tying her with Helen Wills Moody for third on the all-time list, just behind Steffi Graf (22) and Margaret Court (24). The American passes both Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert with 18 each.
“I would love to get to 22,” Williams said. “I mean, 19 was very difficult to get to. Took me 33 years to get here, so… I would love to get there. But I have to get to 20 first, and then I have to get to 21. There’s so many wonderful young players coming up, so it will be a very big task. My next goal was just to get to 19. That was my goal. So I didn’t think it would happen this fast, to be honest, but it feels really good.”
Battling a cold during the tournament, No. 1 Williams remains unbeaten in six finals. She is the oldest Australian Open champion of the Open Era.
“Standing here with 19 majors is something I never thought would happen,” Williams said during the trophy ceremony. “I went on the court with a ball, a racket and a hope”
“I have to congratulate Maria. She really pushed me tonight. She played a great match… not only for you guys but for tennis”
“I haven’t beaten her in a really long time but I love playing her because you want to play the best,” world No. 2 Sharapova said. “And she’s the best.”
It was the 16th straight win for Williams over Sharapova to raise her record to 17- 2 over the Russian.
The match began with the roof open on Rod Laver Arena, but the rain came and the roof close in the first set causing a 13-minute delay.
Williams promptly hit an ace upon resumption of play, winning six straight points which included a break of serve.
Williams was dominant in her serving, hitting 18 aces during the 1 hour and 51 minute match. Fifteen of the aces came in the second set.
Williams celebrated prematurely on her third match point, thinking she had hit an ace, when it was a let.. She promptly regrouped.
“I thought after the let, Man, I am not meant to win this tournament,” Willliams said. “I had a couple of match points. I mean, she played great on those match points. She totally went for broke. I was like, C’mon. First of all, why I hear the let. Then I was like, Okay, do I go T? Do I go wide? What am I going to do? Then I just tossed and served as hard as I could.”
“I haven’t won against her many times, but if I’m getting to the stage of competing against someone like Serena, I’m doing something well.,” Sharapova said in her post-match interview with the media. “I’m setting up a chance to try to beat her and it hasn’t happened. I’m not just going to go home without giving it another chance. That’s just not who I am and not who I was raised to be. I’m a competitor. If I’m getting to the finals of Grand Slams and setting myself up to play a match against Serena, I mean, I know it sounds — maybe you’re telling me I’m wrong — but I’m happy to be in that position. I love the competition. I love playing against the best, and at the moment she is.”
“Over the last 10 years her and I have been out of the game. Sometimes she was injured for a period of time; I was out for a year. So, yeah, between all of that, between and around it, we’ve been able to play a lot of great matches against other players. I’m proud to be part of an era where she’s in.”
“I’m happy with the way I’ve handled a few of the matches here, how I’ve come back strong, how I’ve set myself up to try to win another major. It’s not easy to get to the final of a Grand Slam. It takes a lot of work. It’s over the course of two weeks. That’s a good achievement. It’s a good start to the year. The year is very young at this point.”
“It feels really good to be sitting here as the champion,” Williams said in her post-match interview. “I definitely didn’t think I would be here in the beginning of the week or the beginning of the two weeks, but it feels pretty excellent.”
“The match definitely got tough in the second set. Maria started playing a lot better. She started being a little more aggressive. I think I got a little more passive. Was just trying to get the ball back in play. But I also started serving better in the second set because I knew if I wasn’t having my groundstrokes where I wanted them to be, I knew I could serve it out. So, yeah, it definitely got really interesting. I had a lot of moments. I had some easy shots that I missed in the second set on her serve, and then she came up with a big serve when she was down a breakpoint, which was great. But I definitely can look back and say, Oh, I could have done a few things better just for the future”
“I’ve been through so much the past week,” the champion continued. “I really, really didn’t expect to win. I didn’t expect to be here this long. I was walking down the hall yesterday and I was thinking, Wow, I’m still in the tournament. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the final here or the semifinal. It’s been a long time coming. I was just really, really elated to have an opportunity to walk out on the final match.”
Williams’ six Australian titles came in 2003, ’05, ’07, ’09 ’10 and ’15. She defeated Sharapova in ‘07 and ‘15. Sharapova won the title in 2008.
Serena Williams is halfway to another “Serena Slam” having won the 2014 US Open and now the Australian Open. The next major and second leg of the calendar Grand Slam will be the French Open in May.
“When I think about Paris, I don’t think about 20,” Williams said. “I just think about winning there. It’s the one slam I don’t have more than two titles on. I only have two there. Sorry. That and Wimbledon I’ve been struggling. Yeah, so I think, okay, now that I got this under my belt. I’m a little more comfortable with my ranking now. Now I can really move. Like I did so bad last year at Roland Garros, and Wimbledon as well. So those are the two I really have my eye on, because I would like to do better at those. And I know I can do better. I’m not going into it not as number 20, but I want to win Roland Garros.”