Williams has sights on Graf grand slam haul

Serena Williams.
Serena Williams.
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Serena Williams will adjust her playing schedule to focus on more grand slam titles after claiming the 19th of her career in Melbourne.

Williams extended her winning streak against Maria Sharapova to 16 matches with a hard-fought 6-3 7-6 (7/5) victory under the roof on Rod Laver Arena, claiming a sixth Australian Open title and first since 2010.

It means the 33-year-old moved out of a tie with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on 18 grand slam singles titles and within three of the open-era record of 22 held by Steffi Graf.

Williams acknowledged it will not be easy to win three or even more titles given the level of competition from the likes of world No 2 Sharapova, double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and rising stars Madison Keys and Eugenie Bouchard.

But the world No 1 has now won two in succession since adopting a more relaxed attitude after realising she was trying too hard to catch Evert and Navratilova by winning title number 18.

She will play less regular WTA Tour events to ensure she is at her peak when the next grand slam event arrives with the French Open in Paris from May 24 to June 7.

“When I think about Paris, I don’t think about 20. I just think about winning there,” said Williams. “It’s the one slam I don’t have more than two titles.”

Britain’s Katie Swan saw her excellent Australian Open campaign come to a disappointing end as she lost 6-1 6-4 to Slovakia’s Tereza Mihalikova in the final of the girls’ singles.

Swan beat the top seed in the third round and saved three match points in an epic semi-final victory, struggling with cramp in a three-set match. But the 15-year-old from Bristol, who is based in Kansas, perhaps paid the price for those heroics in the final.