Saturday, January 27, 2007

Serena the Great: 8-Time Grand Slam Champion

Serena Williams d. Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-2

Smackdown Down Under
IN JUST over an hour, #81 swept aside new world No. 1 in the championship match of the Australian Open in Melbourne Park 6-1, 6-2 to win her third Australian Open title, her first title since she won here in 2005.

Playing flawless, aggressive tennis, the focused Dreamgirl simply didn't allow Little Miss Sunshine an opportunity to play the match. Sharapova, who was extraordinarily gracious in defeat, even as her father Yuri stormed out of the stadium, suffered her worst smackdown in a Gland Slam match since the 2004 Roland Garros quarterfinals when she fell to Argentina's Paola Suarez 1-6, 3-6.

Saving both of the two break points she faced, #81 hit line-clipping serves up to 122 mph. She cracked 28 winners to only 11 unforced errors, a superb ratio for a player who admitted her errors are usually in the 50s. It seems that studying the videotapes of Fernando Gonzalez, the finalist who has played the best and cleanest tennis overall in this tournament, paid dividends. The champion remains a quick study.

No. 81 become only the second unseeded woman in the Open Era to win the Australian Open, and the first since 1978 when Aussie Chris O'Neil took the crown.

No. 81 also posted the second most dominant performance by a champion in Melbourne since Steffi Graf defeated Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario 6-0, 6-2 in 1994.

Teary-eyed, Serena dedicated her third Australian Open crown to her slain sister Yetunde Price.

Serena the Great, who will catapult to No. 14 (with a bullet as the announcers proclaimed) in the rankings on Monday, is back. Back to muzzle every single one of her naysayers. Back to remind the world what championship tennis is supposed to look like.

All hail to the Queen.

Related articles:
Best of Serena's overall Grand Slam victories
Serena sizzles to title
Serena wows even herself
She's Back
Serena's To-Do List
Who Will Win? - Poll Results
Henin out of Melbourne: Who Benefits? - Poll Results
Ode to Serena

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