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AUSTRALIAN OPEN SCENE: Sharapova doesn't dream tennis

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Serena Williams had nothing but love for the fans at Rod Laver Arena after winning her 19th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Saturday.

As she walked to the microphone to speak to the crowd, someone from the dark arena yelled, ''I love you, Serena.''

Williams didn't miss a beat: ''I love you back. I really do.''

''This crowd here in Australia is really good to me,'' she said later at her post-match news conference. ''I don't get that everywhere. I really feel my heart really is here.''

Williams also told the crowd about a television commercial she filmed this week to raise awareness about motor neuron disease (MND), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. It's an ailment that affects the nerve cells controlling the muscles that enable people to move, speak, swallow and breathe.

She got a big cheer when she announced she was increasing her donation for the cause from 100 Australian dollars for every ace she hit in the tournament to $200.

The American led the women at the Australian Open with 88 aces. That's good for A$17,600, or US$13,675.

By Justin Bergman --


GRAF NEXT?: Serena Williams had barely caught her breath after winning the Australian Open when she was asked whether she was thinking about passing Steffi Graf on the all-time Open-era major winner list at 22.

Williams had been tied with tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert with 18 major singles titles after winning her sixth U.S. Open in September. The Australian Open victory moved her to second place with 19.

''I would love to get to 22,'' Williams said. ''I mean, 19 was very difficult to get to. Took me 33 years to get here, so... I would love to get there.''

Navratilova and Evert were both in Melbourne to watch Williams move past them on the list. Navratilova handed Williams the trophy after the match, and Evert was among the commentators interviewing her on ESPN.

By Justin Bergman --


GET READY FOR THE COLD: As if losing to Serena Williams, again, wasn't bad enough. Next up for Maria Sharapova is a 30-hour flight to freezing Poland.

''Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it,'' Sharapova said with a laugh when a reporter asked if she still plans to fly to Krakow for the Fed Cup, where Poland plays Russia next weekend.

''I'm very much looking forward to the 30-hour flight taking to Krakow tomorrow,'' the 27-year-old Russian, sarcastically. ''A very convenient travel itinerary, too.''

After a few weeks in the Australian summer, the thought of winter in Poland isn't too appealing, apparently.

''It's like minus eight, so that's even better,'' Sharapova added, chuckling to herself. ''Love the climate, love the travel.''

By Jocelyn Gecker --


SWAN SONG: British 15-year-old Katie Swan's first time at Rod Laver Arena came not as a spectator, but as a player on center court.

Swan, who lost the Australian Open junior girls final to Slovakia's Tereza Mihalikova on Saturday, was visiting Australia for the first time and didn't have time to watch any matches on the featured show court at Melbourne Park over the past two weeks.

After a tough 2 1/2-hour semifinal on Friday, Swan injured her right thigh early in the final while leading 3-0 in the second set. She then lost six of the next seven games in a 6-1, 6-4 defeat.

She was back at Rod Laver Arena in the evening to watch Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova in the women's final.

In between, Swan, who lives in Wichita, Kansas, due to her father's work commitments, was receiving messages of support from afar.

''It's actually been crazy,'' Swan said. ''There have been so many people that sent me messages, tweeting, Facebook, Instagram. Everybody has been so supportive from my home in England and Wichita, it's been amazing.''

The experience left her with a few more followers on Twitter, and a tweet from injured British player Laura Robson, ''which made me feel real good,'' Swan said.

By Dennis Passa --


Australian Open Scene follows tennis' Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne as seen by journalists from The Associated Press. It is updated throughout the day.