‘Racquet and a dream’ to 19 Grand Slams

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Serena Williams AFP PHOTO

Serena Williams AFP PHOTO

MELBOURNE: A delighted Serena Williams paid tribute to her family and her humble beginnings after making history with her 19th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

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The American world number one, who grew up in the gritty Los Angeles neighbourhood of Compton, said it felt amazing to win her 19th Slam with a hard-fought 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory over Russia’s Maria Sharapova.

“Growing up I wasn’t the richest but I had a rich family in spirit and support and standing here with 19 championships is something I never thought would happen,” the 33-year-old said.

“I went on the courts with just a ball and a racquet and hope and that’s all I had.”

Williams, who is now three majors behind Steffi Graf’s all-time Open-era Grand Slam winners’ record of 22, said her desire to win was as strong as ever.

“I think I get more joy now, there were times in the match where I just smiled because I’m so happy to be out there competing,” added the newly-crowned, six-time Australian champion, who has overcome serious illness during her career.

She said Graf’s tally was definitely on her radar but it still seemed a long way off.

“I would love to get to 22,” she said. “I mean 19 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.

“My next goal was just to get to 19. That was my goal. So I didn’t think it would happen this fast, to be honest, but it feels really good.”

AFP

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