Williams ends even-year jinx at Australian Open
Serena Williams overcame an even-numbered year hoodoo and the fairytale return of an opponent once ranked number one in the world to claim her 12th Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open on Saturday.
The 28-year-old world number one, who had won four previous Australian Open titles, in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009, was at her bustling and aggressive best on Saturday, overcoming Justine Henin 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 to snap the jinx.
"I never thought about it," Williams said of the victory with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup sitting beside her.
"I was always okay with winning on the odd years.
"I was totally okay with losing today or losing in the semis, because it meant that I would win next year.
"So now I don't know. I'm a little nervous. I'm like, I don't know if I'm going to win next year or not."
Image: Serena Williams with the Australian Open Trophy
Serena had few reasons to get upset as she progressed through to the quarter-finals with comfortable victories courtesy of her powerful service game and groundstrokes.
By the time she met seventh seeded Belarussian Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals she was the dominant force in the tournament.
She had not dropped a set or been broken in 31 service games in her four previous matches.
Azarenka ended that streak in the first game and held a one set and 4-0 lead before Williams finally woke up and began to reel off aces and service winners.
"Well, I lost so many in a row I thought, 'gosh, I was up 15 40 at one point and could have broke her'," Serena said.
"I thought, 'well, at least I won the first set.'
"So in the third, I knew I would have chances again just to capitalise on that one chance in that one moment.
Image: Serena Williams hits a backhand
Serena, who claimed her 11th Grand Slam doubles title with sister Venus on Friday, said the support from her older sibling helped her in the third set.
"She was really supportive out there today. I remember in the third set, I was down, and I heard her say, 'c'mon, Serena. It's okay, right here, right here'.
"That really got me pumped up."
Williams was so happy after the match that she made a half-hearted attempt to climb into her box to thank Venus after the match.
"I was like, 'okay, that's a hopeless cause'. I was thinking about going inside, taking the elevator and then going inside, but there's no way I would have made it."
Image: Serena and Venus Williams with the women's doubles trophy
Justine Henin needed an invitation to get into the tournament because she does not have an official ranking yet but rode a wave of emotion and support to become only the second wildcard to make a grand slam final.
Henin's compatriot Kim Clijsters won last year's US Open after making her own fairytale comeback, beating Serena in the semi-finals.
"It's been a very emotional couple of weeks for me," Henin said. "I'd like to congratulate Serena, she's a real champion."
"I thought it would never happen again and finally I could really come back on the court and enjoy the tournament," she added.
Image: Justine Henin with the runners up trophy
Bryans pocket fourth Australian doubles title
Mike and Bob Bryan defended their Australian Open doubles title on Saturday with a 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 win over Canada's Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia.
The win gave the top-seeded American brothers their eighth Grand Slam title and fourth at Melbourne Park, where they also won in 2006 and 2007.
"We feel comfortable here," Mike told reporters after the one-hour-52-minute match at Rod Laver Arena.
"I think Andre (Agassi) called it the happy slam. Seems we're in a good mood coming down here, fresh from an off-season. We like to get a jump to the year."
Image: Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan with the winners trophy