Serena Williams won her record 23rd Grand Slam singles title, defeating her older sister Venus 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday night.
The 35-year-old had to dig deep to see off Venus and finally surpass Steffi Graf's Open era mark, overcoming a nervy and error-strewn start when she smashed a racquet before reeling in a tense victory at the Australian Open.
In doing so, she also won a seventh Melbourne title and returned to world number one.
"It's a great feeling. No better place to do it than Melbourne," Serena said.
"My first Grand Slam started here, and getting to 23 here, but playing Venus, it's stuff that legends are made of. I couldn't have written a better story.
"I just feel like it was the right moment. Everything kind of happened. It hasn't quite set in yet, but it's really good."
The American made her Grand Slam debut in Melbourne way back in 1998 -- knocked out in round two by Venus -- and won the first of her major titles at the US Open a year later.
Now she has won her 23rd title and with the record in the bag, the praise and rewards followed.
Runner-up Venus was the first to congratulate her. "Serena Williams... That is my little sister, guys. Congratulations Serena on number 23," said an emotional Venus.
"I really enjoy seeing the name 'Williams' on the trophy. This is a beautiful thing." she added.
Serena also received some interesting memorabilia on winning the 23.
Probably the coolest of the lot was a pair of customised Air Jordans – from the player who made the number 23 synonymous with his name in sport.
Serena was presented with the surprise gift from Jordan after the match during her interview with ESPN. Jordan, who wore No 23 during his NBA career, also wrote her a letter, according to a report in the Business Insider.
"Winning is hard," the letter read. "It takes years of hard work, mental toughness, and a willingness to accept the fact that you hate to lose. Congratulations with much respect on winning No. 23. It will be a privilege to keep watching your determination on the court. Your friend, Michael Jordan," read the letter.
The customized box, with "23 Grand Slams" embossed contained two pairs of Air Jordan 1s – one in classic black and red, the colour of Chicago Bulls, and the other in pink and black, with the number 23 on the side.
— WTA (@WTA) January 28, 2017
Serena seems to have loved the gift and even wore one of the pairs when she went back out to the court to pose for photographers.
“This is so awesome ... wow. Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Michael Jordan. I can’t believe I’m saying thank you to Michael Jordan. He’s still the greatest," she was quoted as saying on ESPN by
There was some sporting silverware for her, thanks to WWE.
Serena will soon receive a custom WWE championship title belt. WWE star Triple H took to Twitter to share a photo of the belt calling her a "record-breaking, ground-breaking, barrier-breaking, history-making champion."
WWE had formed a sort of a tradition of handing out these belts and handed over a similar championship title belt last year to Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Cavaliers, after they won the World Series and NBA Finals.
— Triple H (@TripleH) January 28, 2017
Meanwhile, Serena's racquet sponsor Wilson rolled out a limited-edition, commemorative series of gold-plated racqeuts. There were only 23 pieces of the Serena Williams Grand Slam Commemorative Edition created, and they have already sold out. They are priced at $723.00, a number which stands for her seventh Australian Open title as well as the 23rd Grand Slam. Wilson will donate all the proceeds from the sale to the Serena Williams Fund, according to PRnewswire.
Each of the 23 exclusive rackets are autographed by Serena and feature the exact specifications of her racquet. The black-framed racquets also have gold accents as well as symbols of the four majors and the number "23,". In addition, the Wilson logo on the outside of the racket's throat is made up of tiny number "23"s. It also includes a real 24k karat gold trapdoor on the butt cap, continues the report. You can check out the racquets on the Wilson site.
Updated Date: Jan 30, 2017 16:53:59 IST