Serena continues mastery of Sharapova for magical 19th

Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:02am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A sickly Serena Williams gave Maria Sharapova another serving of grand slam heartbreak on Saturday to win the Australian Open and bolster her claims to be the all-time greatest player with her 19th major title.

Though wheezing, coughing and forced off court to be sick during a rain-break, Williams's serve stayed in the rudest of health and her athleticism astonished in a nerve-shredding 6-3 7-6(5) victory under the lights of Rod Laver Arena.

In sealing her sixth title at Melbourne Park, Williams surpassed Martina Navratilova, the woman who handed her the trophy, and Chris Evert in grand slam title wins, while drawing level with fellow American Helen Wills Moody, third in the all-time list.

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, her voice still raspy from a week-long cold.

"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."   Continued...

Serena Williams of the U.S. poses with the women's singles trophy in the players' locker room after she defeated Maria Sharapova of Russia at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 31, 2015.   REUTERS/Fiona Hamilton/Tennis Australia/Handout via Reuters