Time 'felt right' for Serena's Slam record

Serena Williams (Getty)
Serena Williams (Getty)

Melbourne - An ecstatic Serena Williams said winning a record 23rd Grand Slam at the tournament where it all began, and against her sister Venus, was "the stuff that legends are made of".

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 6-4, 6-4 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.

Newly engaged, she deliberately avoided any talk of Graf's record during the tournament, a strategy she said helped her relax.

"I've been chasing it for a really long time. It feels like, really long time," she said of the record, happy to talk now it has been secured.

"When it got on my radar, I knew I had an opportunity to get there, and I'm here. I'm here."

With the record now in the bag, she insisted there were no new goals, despite being just one shy of the all-time Grand Slam titles achieved by Margaret Court, who watched her match courtside on Saturday.

"I never had a number. That's the beauty of it," she said.

"When I started this journey, I just wanted to win a Grand Slam. Then I just wanted to win. Every time I step on the court, I want to win."

Her career, though, has involved plenty of impressive numbers. The Williams sisters have won an incredible 30 Grand Slams between them.

Serena said she couldn't have done achieved her career without her older sister beside her.

"We are just so proud. We feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to be the ones that can do it," she said.

"Venus and I work so hard. Still to this day we work side-by-side each other at practice. We motivate each other.

"Every time she won her match, I felt obligated to win. I've got to win, too. The motivation she gives me, it's really second to nothing. It's amazing."

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