Serena Williams wins 6th Australian Open – edges past Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on all-time list
I’m always a bit of a zombie during the Australian Open.
Today’s women’s final began at 12:30 am Pacific Time and I stayed up to watch.
It was worth it.
No. 1 Serena Williams was at her best as she beat No. 2 Maria Sharapova 6-3, 7-6 in the finals of the year’s first major.
“Growing up,” she told the crowd in Rod Laver Arena, “I wasn’t the richest. But I had a rich family in spirit and support and standing here with 19 championships is something I never thought would happen. I went on the courts with just a ball and a racket and a hope, and that’s all I had.”
The win was huge for Serena in terms of her place in history. It was her sixth Australian Open title and 19th grand slam win.
She had been tied with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova at 18. The all-time Open Era record (tennis went pro in 1968) is the 22 slam titles won by Steffi Graf.
“I’m so honored to be here and to hold this 19th trophy,” Williams said after the match. “I didn’t think it would happen this fast, to be honest, but it feels really good.”
Almost immediately, her thoughts turned to the next major.
“I would love to get to 22. I mean, 19 was very difficult to get to,” she said. “But I have to get to 20 first, and then I have to get to 21. It will be a very big task.”
Once Serena gets to a slam final, she rarely loses. Her 19-4 record includes losses to her sister Venus at the US Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2008, to Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004, and to Samantha Stosur at the 2011 US Open.
Sharapova, the 2008 Australian Open champion who has won each of the sport’s four majors at least once, was exceptionally classy in defeat.
“I haven’t beaten her in a long time but I love every time I step on the court with her,” she said in her runner-up speech. “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.”