MELBOURNE, Australia -- Serena Williams won her second straight Australian Open championship, ending Justine Henin's hopes of a Grand Slam title in her return from retirement with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 victory Saturday.
Williams withstood a determined challenge from Henin before
securing her fifth Australian Open title overall and 12th Grand
Slam singles championship, tying Billie Jean King.
"Billie, we are tied," Williams said. "So I've reached my
Williams' five Australian titles is the most by any woman in the
Open Era, since 1968, surpassing the four held by Margaret Court,
Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles. Court holds
11 Australian Open titles overall, most coming before 1968.
Henin, who had most of the crowd support at Rod Laver Arena,
couldn't match her fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters' feat of winning in
her Grand Slam comeback tournament. Clijsters won last year's U.S.
Open in her return from a two-year retirement after getting married
and having a daughter.
Williams won the last four games to clinch the championship in
just over two hours, falling on her back in celebration after match
"It was definitely a tough match mentally and physically,"
Williams said. "We were both out there to prove something, and I
think we did at the end of the day."
It was an impressive run by Henin. She lost in the final of the
Brisbane International tournament to Clijsters two weeks ago.
The unranked and unseeded Henin then beat four seeded players en
route to the Australian Open final, including No. 5 and Olympic
gold medalist Elena Dementieva in the second round.
"It's been a very emotional two weeks for me," said Henin, who
put her hand on her heart as she thanked the crowd for support. "I
thought it would never happen to me again. I'd like to congratulate
Serena. She's a real champion."
Later, Henin said there was a feeling of disappointment, but
"It's just more than what I could expect, I just have to
remember that," Henin said. "Even if it's quite soon after the
match now, I'm sure there will be a lot of positive things I can
think about in a few days. It's been almost perfect. Just the last
step, I couldn't make it."
And she's certain now about her decision to come back on the
"I was curious about what my level would be and how I was going
to deal with just the atmosphere on and off the court, how it would
feel," Henin said.
"I felt I took the right decision, so it's good enough for me
already. I got the results also in the last four weeks - two
finals. So I can be really happy about that."
Henin saved two break points to hold for 3-3 in a four-game run
in the second set, winning 13 of the last 14 points in a dominant
finish to the set. She maintained the superiority early in the
deciding set, increasing that to 18 of 19 points before Williams
held serve to even the third set at 1-1.
Williams, with her right thigh and left knee heavily taped as it
had been for much of the tournament, broke Henin to go up 2-1. The
two then traded breaks, with Williams going up 3-2, a lead she
"I thought I was just giving it to her at that point,"
Williams said. "I didn't want to go out like that. I literally
said to myself, 'I need to man up and start playing better."'
Serena Williams Captures 2nd Straight Australian Open Title
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