Serena ends even-year jinx at Australian Open

Updated: 2010-01-31 10:32
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MELBOURNE - 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.

Serena ends even-year jinx at Australian Open
Serena Williams of the U.S. poses with the champion's trophy after defeating Belgium's Justine Henin in the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 30, 2010. [Photo/Agencies] 

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."

Williams had entered the tournament under a cloud after a foul-mouthed tirade against a line judge at the U.S. Open ended in her being fined $175,000 and given a two-year good behaviour bond for the outburst.

Any subsequent offence at a grand slam could cost her a place at the U.S. Open in 2010, 2011 or 2012, and the American kept her emotions in check throughout the tournament at Melbourne Park.


Williams 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.

The pattern continued in the final against Henin, where at one point she lost 15 successive points, which had allowed the Belgian to take the second set and a 1-0 lead in the third.

"Well, I lost so many in a row I thought, 'gosh, I was up 15 40 at one point and could have broke her'," Williams 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.

"I may have hit some aces. So that definitely helped me out.  Honestly, the longer the match goes the better my serve gets."

Williams, 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."

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