Melbourne, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) - Serena Williams is again the Australian Open champion.
The top-seeded American earned her sixth Aussie Open title and 19th career Grand Slam championship with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) triumph over Maria Sharapova on Saturday at Rod Laver Arena.
Williams won in Melbourne for the first time since 2010, finishing the match with an ace in the second-set tiebreaker on her third championship point. She now owns the second-most women's Grand Slam titles in the Open Era, surpassing legends Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Only Steffi Graf has more with 22.
"Standing here with 19 majors is something I never thought would happen," said Williams during the trophy ceremony.
Sharapova was trying for a second Australian Open title. She fell to 2-17 lifetime against Williams and has lost the last 16 meetings.
"I haven't beaten her in a really long time, but I love playing her because you want to play the best," said Sharapova. "And she's the best."
The 33-year-old Williams notched her 65th career title and has captured the last two Grand Slam events, taking the U.S. Open crown last September.
Williams had a break point opportunity in the opening game of the match when Sharapova fired a backhand wide. A double fault quickly gave Williams the early advantage.
The players were locked at 30-30 in the sixth game when rain forced the closing of the roof.
Williams, who was bothered by a cold and a cough, hardly seemed affected by the wait, following an ace with a strong forehand winner to complete the hold for a 4-2 lead. She actually threw up during the delay.
"I guess there's a first time for anything," said Williams about vomiting. "I think in a way that just helped me -- I felt better after that. My chest was really stuck at that point."
A double fault gave Williams three break points in the next game, but she only needed one as Sharapova fired a backhand long. Sharapova broke back, but Williams responded to the poor service game with a break at love to take the first set.
Williams continued her strong play into the second set with a hold at love, then had two more break points in the next game. Sharapova, though, regrouped and managed to save both before holding.
Each player had a break chance midway through the second set, but Williams failed to convert her opportunity with a wide backhand in the sixth game and Sharapova sent a forehand wide in the seventh game.
Another Sharapova forehand error gave Williams her first championship point in the 10th game, but the Russian came up with a big serve that Williams barely returned. Sharapova followed with a blistering forehand that drew applause from the American.
"The match definitely got tough in the second set," said Williams. "Maria started playing a lot better. She started being a little more aggressive. I think I got a little more passive. Was just trying to get the ball back in play. But I also started serving better in the second set because I knew if I wasn't having my groundstrokes where I wanted them to be, I knew I could serve it out."
After Williams held with an ace, Sharapova held at love to force the tiebreak.
Sharapova won the first point of the tiebreak with a forehand return winner, but Williams won the next four to take control. At 6-4, Sharapova came up with a forehand that Williams could not return to save a second championship point.
Williams then blasted what appeared to be an ace to win the title, but it was ruled a let. She dropped her racket in disbelief, then followed with the same serve. This one did not tip the tape and she dropped her racket again, but in exultation.
"I thought after the let, 'Man, I am not meant to win this tournament.' I had a couple of match points. She played great on those match points," said Williams, who excitedly jumped around the court after winning.
Sharapova fell to 5-5 all-time in Grand Slam finals, including 1-3 against Williams. The only victory came in the 2004 Wimbledon title match. Williams also beat Sharapova for the 2007 Australian Open crown and for the 2013 French Open title.
"It's always tough getting to a final stage of an event where it's down to two players and you end up the one that's going home with the smaller trophy, there's no doubt about it," Sharapova lamented. "No matter how you played, well or not, whatever the score line is, it's always tough. But it will be all right."
The 27-year-old Sharapova's lone Australian Open championship came in 2008 against Ana Ivanovic. She also lost the 2012 final against Victoria Azarenka.