Serena Williams always selects a special outfit to bring to Australia for a victory celebration. Every second year, she gets to wear it.
Williams' 6-0, 6-3 rout of Dinara Safina on Saturday earned her a 10th Grand Slam title, a fourth Australian title — coming each odd-numbered year since 2003 — and the No. 1-ranking.
"I actually forgot until the end when I was saying hi to my fans. They're like, 'Hey, you're No. 1.' I was like, 'Oh, yeah,' " she said.
Not that a number means everything.
"I always believe I'm the best, whether I'm No. 1 or 100," she said. "Just having that extra bonus is pretty cool."
Williams set aside a stylish black top to wear for the big occasion this time. In between the match, doping tests and media commitments, she changed into it.
"I always bring an outfit for the championships," she said. "I always try to think positive, and I think it helps me be able to win."
Williams was so dominant that Safina, a 22-year-old Russian playing in her second major final, didn't feel worthy of being on the same court.
"It was first time for me to play not only for the Grand Slam, but also for No. 1 spot," said Safina, the 2008 French Open runner-up. "I never been through this situation, and she was already.
"Serena was too good ... I was just a ballboy on the court today," added Safina, apologizing to the Rod Laver Arena crowd after the 59-minute match.
After Melbourne's hottest three-day heat wave on record, conditions were a relatively mild 79 degrees for the tournament's first women's final at night.
Safina had been hoping to emulate two feats her brother, Marat Safin, achieved. He won the 2005 Australian Open and held the No. 1 ranking.
"She played exactly the way she had to play, and she was much more aggressive and she just was taking time out of me," Safina said.
Williams' win at the U.S. Open in September gave her the No. 1 ranking for the following four weeks, her first stint at the top since a 57-week stretch from July 2002.
She started this year at No. 2 and slowly worked her way through the tournament. She was struggling with her serve at times and had to fend off Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals when the Russian was serving for the match.
"I was playing lazy tennis in the beginning and I was doubting myself," she said. "I'll thank my mom for hanging in there this week. The first week was tough, but we got through it."
She lifted herself in the semis to snap Olympic champion Elena Dementieva's 15-match winning streak and was overpowering from the first game of the final, losing only eight points and winning 18 of the last 20 in the 22-minute first set.
Williams finished with 23 winners and just seven unforced errors, winning more than twice as many points as Safina.