Tuesday 26 September 2017

Serena shows she's still got the stomach for silverware

Serena Williams celebrates after victory in her women's singles final match against Maria Sharapova on day thirteen of the 2015 Australian Open
Serena Williams celebrates after victory in her women's singles final match against Maria Sharapova on day thirteen of the 2015 Australian Open

Jonathan Liew

Finally, a match worthy of the hype. Finally, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova gave us a contest worth talking about.

And even if the outcome was a familiar one - a 16th consecutive victory for Williams (6-3, 7-6) - this was a final of high tension and high thrills as the world's top two players stared each other down, screamed each other down and refused to budge an inch.

"Maria really pushed me and played so well," Williams said after her Australian Open success. "She gave us a great final, not only for you guys, but for women's tennis."

It was Williams' 19th grand slam title, moving her ahead of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, with only Steffi Graf left to catch. And although she will cherish them all, you could tell as she bounded across the Rod Laver Arena in victory that this one felt particularly special.

She had, after all, beaten two opponents - the indefatigable Sharapova, and her own body.

Williams has been feeling poorly all fortnight and on Saturday morning she was running a temperature of 102 degrees. In the middle of the first set, when play was temporarily halted for rain, she went to the bathroom and promptly emptied out her insides.

Optimism "I ended up throwing up," she said. "I think that helped me, when I got everything out of me, cleared my chest out. I just got a really bad cold and a really bad cough. Usually when that happens, you stay in bed."

Only a woman of Williams' rare and peculiar optimism could take the positives out of a mid-game vomit.

When she took the first set, breaking three times along the way, another mismatch threatened. But as the stakes rose in the second set, so did the temperature, and so did the volume as it went to a tie-break.

At 5-4 up Williams slammed a perfect return winner to bring up two match points. Sharapova saved the first, but a crunching ace brought up title No 19.

Suddenly Williams looked a little tired; as if the exertions of these two weeks ere all weighing on her at once. Then, at last, she found a second wind, and started leaping in pure delight: a vaulting tribute to skill, will, endurance and the power of a good spew. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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