Australian Open 2015: Serena Williams Beats Maria Sharapova To Win 19th Grand Slam Title
Serena Williams won her sixth Australian Open title and 19th Grand Slam after defeating Maria Sharapova in straight sets in Melbourne.
Williams now moves above Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in the all-time Grand Slam Open-era winners' list, now just three behind leader Steffi Graf on 22.
Williams shrugged off a coughing fit and lengthy rain delay in the opening set and fired down 15 aces in the second to battle to a 6-3 7-6 (7-5) victory in an hour and 51 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Navratilova was on hand to present the trophy to Williams, her sixth Australian Open title and first since 2010.
“Growing up I wasn't the richest but I had a rich family in spirit and support,” Williams said at the presentation. “Standing here with 19 championships is something I never thought would happen.
“I went on the court with just a ball, a racket and a hope and that's all I had. It's inspiring for you guys that want to be the best you can be, you never give up because you never know what can happen and who you can inspire and
“I have to congratulate Maria who played a wonderful match. She really pushed me tonight. She played so well.”
The American shrugged off a coughing fit and a rain delay to win the first set 6-3 on the Rod Laver Arena as she looked to extend her winning streak over the second seed to an incredible 16 matches.
Sharapova, whose last win against Williams came in November 2004 at the WTA Championships, got off to the worst possible start, serving a double fault to lose her serve in the opening game.
Williams held serve comfortably to move 3-2 ahead and was serving at 30-30 when rain forced the retractable roof to be fully closed, leading to a 12-minute delay.
Sharapova remained on court during that time but Williams left and was on her way back when a coughing spell delayed her return further, although the top seed promptly served an ace and hit a forehand winner to hold.
Williams then made it six points in succession to claim a second break and although she then lost her own serve, she responded by breaking Sharapova for a third time to take the set in 47 minutes.
The Melbourne crowd were spoilt in the second with a set full of terrific shot-making, huge serves and plenty of emotion being displayed by both players on court.
Sharapova had to come up with some impressive serves, including two aces, to save two break points at the start of the second set, but Williams was not to be outdone in the serving stakes.
The American hammered 11 aces in four service games and shrugged off the loss of a point for prematurely celebrating what she thought was another one, Sharapova somehow gettting a backhand return back into court.
That “hindrance” call led to a break point for Sharapova in the seventh game but Williams accepted it without question and went on to hold serve to keep in front.
Serving second, Sharapova was under intense pressure in each service game and had to save a match point at 4-5, producing a forehand winner right into the corner that even had her opponent applauding.
A tie-break was required to decide the outcome and after losing the first point, Williams took the next four in succession before two unforced errors gave Sharapova a lifeline.
A forehand return winner then gave Williams two more match points and after Sharapova had saved the first, Williams thought she had served an ace on the second, only for a let to be called.
Williams managed a rueful smile before composing herself and thumping down her 18th ace of the match to seal victory.
Sharapova, who saved two match points in the second round against Alexandra Panova, added: “I have to congratulate Serena on creating history and playing some of her best tennis. It's an honour playing against her.
“I've not beaten her in a really long time but I love stepping on the court every time because she has been the best and you always want to play the best.
“I was almost down and out in the second round so feel I gave myself a second life in this tournament. It was not quite enough today but I am proud of my effort. I had some of my best moments on this court but also some of my toughest losses but that's the life of a tennis player.”