BY ASHLEY HORSFORD
Not only did Serena Williams dismantle world no.1 Maria Sharapova in the final of the Australian Open; the American served up a large chunk of humble pie for her many critics as she defied the odds and produced possibly one of the finest displays ever witnessed in a womenís Grand Slam final.
Williamsí 6-1 6-2 victory in just 63 minutes was a sharp reminder of the awesome talent that she possesses and brought on fits of nostalgia.
Williams (right) had not dominated the court in such a manner since her zenith where she was the sportís most dominant force, holding all four Grand Slam titles at one time from the 2002 French Open to the 2003 Australian Open.
Even when she won the Australian Open for the second time in 2005, she did not put together the type of performance that she did recently.
Her serve was ferocious, her movement uninhibited and her court coverage absolute. Where strength was required she pounded her opponent and when delicacy was needed, her touch was sublime.
Sharapova had no answer to a player, who when fit and firing, is the womenís version of Roger Federer. She was simply unplayable in the final after what was a rocky road.
Twice in previous rounds of the tournament, Williamsí opponents had served for the match and on both occasions she came back from the dead to proceed.
Some claimed that she would never return to her previous imperioys levels, that she was, to some extent, a spent force in the game that made her famous.
She was written off as some cynics believed her attention to the sport was waning in pursuit of more glamorous recognition in the worlds of fashion and acting.
On this evidence, if Williams remains injury-free, she looks set to dominate the elite of the womenís game and the broad grin that was etched on her face after the victory will not be the fleeting sight that it was between 2004 and 2006.
All top players experience nadirs at some point of their careers, their response is what sets them apart as great players. Williamsí retort was as comprehensive as they come and it seems her renaissance has begun in earnest.
Published: 08 February 2007