MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Once a simmering volcano of emotions that could erupt at any moment, Australian Open champion Serena Williams appears to be heading down a path that may perhaps lead to her being renamed Serene.
Williams clinched her 19th grand slam title on Saturday with a 6-3 7-6 (5) victory over Maria Sharapova at Melbourne Park, moving her into a tie for third place with Helen Wills Moody on the all-time list.
The American, who could be prickly on and off the court in the past, has spoken throughout the tournament of a new attitude, of having fun and just deciding to take it as it comes.
The 33-year-old showed that attitude and maturity in the final against Sharapova.
Serving at 3-3 in the second set, she prematurely celebrated a serve out wide that she thought would be an ace with a “come on” cry, only for the Russian to return and umpire Alison Lang to penalise her a point for hindrance.
Williams was penalised for a similar incident at the 2011 U.S. Open final against Australia’s Sam Stosur, causing a spectacular outburst at umpire Eva Asderaki and a meltdown in the match.
On Saturday, she simply got on with the game and when she won it to take a 4-3 lead with a similar wide serve she allowed herself a subdued, yet sarcastic congratulatory “come on” that drew laughter from the crowd.
“It just goes to show you I have more fun on the court. I would have never done that three years ago, four years ago,” Williams told reporters.
“That’s what I want to do. Every match I want to go out and just enjoy myself. Whether I win or lose I just want to have fun so I just kind of made a little sarcasm after that.”
Williams suffered a life-threatening blood clot in 2011 and while her meltdown at the U.S. Open occurred after she had been cleared to play again, she said that reflecting on laying in a hospital bed had helped her take stock.
“I didn’t think I would be back on the court, I was in the hospital thinking ‘am I ever going to make it on court?',” she explained.
“Everything now I savour a little bit more because it has enabled me to be more relaxed. I know life is very short and anything can happen at any given time and it takes a strong person to get through it.”
Editing by Tony Jimenez