Serena Williams takes Australian Open victory, more serenely

Serena Williams clinched her 19th grand slam title on Saturday with a 6-3 7-6 (5) victory over Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates after defeating Maria Sharapova of Russia in the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015.

Once a simmering volcano of emotions that could erupt at any moment, Australian Open champion Serena Williams appears to be heading down a path that may perhaps lead to her being renamed Serene.

Williams clinched her 19th grand slam title on Saturday with a 6-3 7-6 (5) victory over Maria Sharapova at Melbourne Park, moving her into a tie for third place with Helen Wills Moody on the all-time list.

The American, who could be prickly on and off the court in the past, has spoken throughout the tournament of a new attitude, of having fun and just deciding to take it as it comes.

The 33-year-old showed that attitude and maturity in the final against Sharapova.

Serving at 3-3 in the second set, she prematurely celebrated a serve out wide that she thought would be an ace with a "come on" cry, only for the Russian to return and umpire Alison Lang to penalize her a point for hindrance.

Williams was penalized for a similar incident at the 2011 U.S. Open final against Australia's Sam Stosur, causing a spectacular outburst at umpire Eva Asderaki and a meltdown in the match.

On Saturday, she simply got on with the game and when she won it to take a 4-3 lead with a similar wide serve she allowed herself a subdued, yet sarcastic congratulatory "come on" that drew laughter from the crowd.

"It just goes to show you I have more fun on the court. I would have never done that three years ago, four years ago," Williams told reporters.


"That's what I want to do. Every match I want to go out and just enjoy myself. Whether I win or lose I just want to have fun so I just kind of made a little sarcasm after that."

Williams suffered a life-threatening blood clot in 2011 and while her meltdown at the U.S. Open occurred after she had been cleared to play again, she said that reflecting on laying in a hospital bed had helped her take stock.

"I didn't think I would be back on the court, I was in the hospital thinking 'am I ever going to make it on court?'," she explained.

"Everything now I savor a little bit more because it has enabled me to be more relaxed. I know life is very short and anything can happen at any given time and it takes a strong person to get through it."

At 33, the oldest Australian Open winner in the professional era and still the boss, Williams left few in doubt that the pursuit of Steffi Graf's 22 titles and Margaret Court's 24 would continue.

"I would love to get to 22," the top seed told reporters.

"Nineteen 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.

"(Nineteen) was my goal. So I didn't think it would happen this fast, to be honest, but it feels really good."

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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