Serena Williams 'honoured' to match Billie-Jean King
Williams is the first woman in the Open era to win Australia five times
Serena Williams was thrilled to draw level with Billie-Jean King in the all-time Grand Slam winners' list with victory at the Australian Open.
The American, 28, beat Justine Henin 6-4 3-6 6-2 to claim her 12th Grand Slam singles title.
"I feel really special that I was able to tie Billie Jean King," said the American afterwards.
"I my heart of hearts, I've been going for it and I haven't been able to quite achieve it."
King was among the crowd on Rod Laver Arena for Sunday's final, and Williams was able to catch up with her after the match.
"I didn't speak to Billie about it (beforehand), but after we talked," she said. "We took a picture. I was excited. I said, 'I tied you.' But what an honour."
She added: "Billie Jean is a really big mentor of mine. She was a Fed Cup coach at one time, which was super cool. We had so much fun."
Williams was thankful for her serving prowess as she saved 11 of 16 break points during the final.
"I don't think I served excellent, but I think when it was necessary I served really well," said Williams.
"Even in the first game - I think that first game was like 10 minutes - that game was important. I ended up holding. She had a couple break points, I hit a couple bombs at the right time.
"So that definitely helped me out. Honestly, the longer the match goes the better my serve gets. So I felt like when I walked out there in the third set I was like, 'OK, I'm going to start serving better.'"
The American had heavy strapping on her thigh throughout the tournament and also struggled with ankle and wrist problems.
"Even though I had all the strappings on me, I felt like I was moving well," she said. "Honestly, I felt like the strappings helped me. It helped me to be able to move better and do what I can do at a normal level."
Henin was playing in only her second tournament since ending an 18-month spell in retirement but Williams felt the Belgian was already playing at a better level than in the first part of her career.
"I think her game is definitely better," she said. "I mean, it was excellent before she left but I think she's added a lot to it. She's attacking more, which is always good.
"As you saw today she took me to the umpteenth level. She clearly hasn't like lost a step at all since she's been gone. So I feel like I played a girl who's been on the tour for the past five years without a break."
Henin, who is not likely to return to action until Indian Wells in March, said: "Of course I am disappointed, you are when you lose in the final of a Grand Slam, especially in three sets.
"I got a few opportunities that I haven't been able to take, but this feeling of disappointment cannot take away from all the things I've done in the last few weeks.
"It's just more than what I could have expected. I just have to remember that. Even if it's quite soon after the match now, I'm sure there will be a lot of positive things I can think about in a few days - it's been almost perfect.
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