1 Feb 2015

Williams claims 19th Grand Slam title

2:36 pm on 1 February 2015

A sickly Serena Williams gave second seed Maria Sharapova another serving of grand slam heartbreak to win the Australian Open and bolster her claims to be tennis' all-time greatest player with her 19th major title.

Serena Williams poses with the Australian Open trophy for the sixth time

Serena Williams poses with the Australian Open trophy for the sixth time Photo: Photosport

Though wheezing, coughing and forced off court to be sick during a rain-break, Williams' serve and athleticism astonished in a gritty 6-3 7-6 victory in the women's final.

In sealing her sixth title at Melbourne Park, the top-seeded American 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, world number one Williams left few in doubt that the pursuit of Steffi Graf's 22 titles and Margaret Court's 24 would continue.

The world number one Serena Williams in action at the Australian Open.

The world number one Serena Williams in action at the Australian Open. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"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."

In her 19th match against Sharapova, and after defeating 19-year-old American Madison Keys in the semi-finals, it was Williams' 18th ace that sealed the match on the third match point.

She bounded around the court like a woman possessed, squealing in delight as the Russian sat quietly in her chair, nursing the pain of a 16th straight defeat to Williams and a third loss in grand slam finals to the American champion.

Steamrolled in the opening set, the five-times grand slam champion was magnificent in the second as she dragged herself off the canvas and staved off defeat twice on match points with crunching winners that teased the lines.

A 2008 winner at Melbourne Park, but runner-up to Williams in the 2007 tournament and again at Roland Garros in 2013, Sharapova's last win over the American came in 2004, when she was a 17-year-old sensation still finding her feet.

Now 27, Sharapova says she feels she is getting closer to crashing through the Serena wall.

"I feel like I gave myself a second life in this tournament and I gave myself an opportunity," Sharapova, nearly dumped out in the second round by compatriot Alexandra Panova, said at the trophy ceremony.

"It wasn't quite enough today, but I'm proud of the effort."

"I've had some of the best memories of my career on this court but also some of the biggest losses of my life on this court, but that's the life of a tennis player."

The Italian pairing of Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini closed proceedings at Melbourne Park, beating French duo Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 6-4 6-4 to win the men's doubles title.

Top seed Novak Djokovic will bid for an eighth grand slam title on Sunday when he faces sixth seed Andy Murray in the men's singles final.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.