Serena Williams celebrates after winning a point against Maria Sharapova on her way to the Australian Open crown. Photograph: Vincent Thian/AP
Serena Williams shrugged off a coughing fit and a rain delay to win her 19th grand slam title in the Australian Open final on Saturday.
Williams prevailed in the opening set against Maria Sharapova 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena before taking a second-set tie-break, extending her winning streak over the second seed to an incredible 16 matches.
Sharapova, whose last win against Williams came in November 2004, got off to the worst possible start, serving a double fault to lose her serve in the opening game of the match. Williams held serve comfortably to move 3-2 ahead and was serving at 30-30 when rain forced the retractable roof to be fully closed, leading to a 12-minute delay.
Sharapova remained on court during that time but Williams left and was on her way back when a coughing fit delayed her return further, although the top seed promptly served an ace and hit a forehand winner to hold. Williams then made it six points in succession to claim a second break and although she promptly lost her own serve, she responded by breaking Sharapova for a third time to take the set in 47 minutes.
The second set was an even longer battle, with Sharapova saving a match point on her serve when she trailed 5-4, but eventually Williams prevailed in a tie-break, taking it 7-5.