MELBOURNE, Australia -- There are many stats you can look at it when examining Serena Williams' dominance over Maria Sharapova.
Serena has roughly 3 million more Twitter followers, has taken home approximately twice as much money in career winnings, has won 14 more Grand Slam titles, has defeated Sharapova 15 more times than Sharapova has defeated her, and she has a faster serve. Serena further showed her dominance in Saturday's Australian Open final by not only out-acing Sharapova 18-5 and beating her in straight sets 6-3, 7-6 (5), she also crushed her in another unofficial metric:
Shouts of "C'mon!''
Firing herself up by yelling "C'mon!'' is one of Serena's signature traits, but Sharapova tried hard to match her and end a 10-year losing streak to Williams by firing herself up with "C'mon!'' shouts. After a lopsided first set, the No. 1 and No. 2 players not only traded winners in the second set, they also traded "C'mon!'' shouts. "C'mon!'' Serena would say after winning a point. "C'mon!'' Sharapova would yell, trying to keep up.
To no avail. Anything Maria can do, Serena can do better -- and louder. She unofficially out-"C'mon!''-ed Sharapova 43-21, including two shouts that stood out in the 1 hour, 50-minute match. First, Serena shouted "C'mon!'' after assuming one of her powerful serves would be another ace. Instead, Sharapova returned the serve and Serena was called for hindrance because of the "C'mon!'' shout.
When a reporter asked Serena later whether that was the first time such a thing had happened in her career, Williams stared blankly at him for a few seconds before asking: "Do you follow tennis?''
Serena followed up the hindrance call by celebrating her next point with a soft, low-key and sarcastic "C'mon.''
"It just goes to show you I have more fun on the court,'' she said. "I would have never done that three years ago, four years ago. I would have stayed so in the zone, so focused. I was like, 'OK, I'm going to have a little fun with this.' I'm really enjoying myself.''
Why wouldn't she? Serena not only won her sixth Australian Open and her 19th Grand Slam (second only to Steffi Graf's 22 during the Open era), but she beat Sharapova for the 16th consecutive time, a streak that extends to the 2005 Australian Open. She has so dominated Sharapova that Williams has lost only three sets to her during that stretch and just one set in the past five years.
Oh, there was a moment or two in Saturday's final when it looked as if Sharapova (gasp!) might actually win a set. She rallied by bearing down against Williams and holding serve each time in the second set to force a tiebreaker. With Serena serving, Sharapova hit a powerful forehand winner to take the first point in that tiebreaker. She also fought off two match points.
"The match definitely got tough in the second set,'' Serena said. "Maria started playing a lot better. She started being a little more aggressive. I think I got a little more passive. Was just trying to get the ball back in play. But I also started serving better in the second set because I knew if I wasn't having my groundstrokes where I wanted them to be, I knew I could serve it out. So yeah, it definitely got really interesting.''
It did. Despite the straight-sets victory, there was a fair amount of drama. The first set was interrupted by a 12-minute rain delay during the sixth game. While the work crew wiped up the court, the roof closed and Sharapova sat courtside. Serena left because the respiratory issue she has had the past week reared up again. This time, she vomited off the court, which she said is a career first.
See? There are new achievements even for a player as accomplished as Serena.
Serena won in the end, though not as quickly as she thought. Leading 6-5 in the tiebreak, Williams thought she had the match won with an ace down the line. Just as she dropped the racket, however, it was called a let. So Serena simply picked up the racket and fired another ace down the line. This time she waited to celebrate, making sure the shot was clean. It was, and she bounded off the court as if she were 7 years old rather than 33.
Williams is the second-oldest woman to win a Grand Slam title, and given the way she is playing there's every reason to believe she will continue winning majors, even if she isn't facing Sharapova in the finals. It's a pretty amazing tennis career for someone who grew up in Compton, California.
"Growing up, I wasn't the richest but I have a family rich in spirit and support,'' Serena said during her acceptance speech. "Standing here with 19 championships is something I never thought would happen. I just went on the courts with just a ball and a racket and a hope. And that's all I had. It's inspiring for all you guys out there who want to do something and want to be the best you can be and do the best you can do -- you just never give up.''
Hopefully, Sharapova was listening as she stood nearby, rather than simply gritting her teeth and wishing this would all end. Because unless she maintains that hope, it never will. So don't give up, Maria. C'mon.
"Yes, I haven't won against her many times, but if I'm getting to the stage of competing against someone like Serena, I'm doing something well,'' Sharapova said. "I'm setting up a chance to try to beat her, and it hasn't happened. 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.
"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. I love the competition. I love playing against the best, and at the moment she is.''