Serena Williams said vomiting during the final helped her win a sixth Australian Open title in Melbourne.
The world number one was sick in a 12-minute break while the Rod Laver Arena roof was being closed because of rain.
“I’ve got a really bad cold,” the American said after her 6-3 7-6 (7-5) win over Russia’s Maria Sharapova.
“I ended up throwing up. I think that helped when I got everything out of me and cleared my chest out because I couldn’t breathe a little bit.”
Williams fired down an ace when play resumed with the score at 30-30 in the sixth game and won six successive points to take a commanding 5-2 lead in the opening set.
BBC Sport’s Russell Fuller
|“This was a match bursting with emotion and thunderous hitting, and contested by two great champions with a steely nerve. Sharapova came close to beating Williams at her own game in the second set, but if you are able to serve 15 aces in a single set you can expect to have the last word.|
|“Back-to-back Grand Slam titles have done wonders for Williams’s chances of at least matching Steffi Graf’s haul of 22. She still has the power and the force of spirit to overwhelm everyone else in the world, even if at 33 the clock is ticking – albeit too slowly for her opponents.”|
The 19-time Grand Slam champion also won the first six points of the second set before Sharapova fought back and deservedly took the set to a tie-break.
But, after saving a championship point in the 10th game and repeating the feat in the tie-break, Sharapova eventually succumbed to Williams’s serving power as an 18th ace won the match.
However, the 33-year-old said her illness would lead to muted celebrations as she wanted to “go to bed, curl up under the covers and go to sleep”.
“I’ve got a bad cough,” she said. “Usually you stay in bed, you don’t play matches and practise every day.”
Sharapova reflected on a 16th successive defeat by Williams by saying she was “happy” to be in the final because it meant she was “doing something well”.
The 27-year-old, who has won five Grand Slam titles, including the 2008 Australian Open, said: “If I’m getting to the finals of Grand Slams and setting myself up to play a match against Serena, I’m happy to be in that position.
“Yes, I haven’t won against her many times, but I’m not just going to go home without giving it another chance.
“That’s just not who I am and not who I was raised to be. I’m a competitor.
“It’s not easy to get to the final of a Grand Slam. That’s a good achievement. It’s a good start to the year. The year is very young at this point.”
|Match time: 1hr 51 mins|
|65||1st serve %||58|
|84||1st serve win %||67|
|38||2nd serve win %||47|