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Serena stays modest

MELBOURNE, January 31 – Serena Williams insisted Sunday she does not think of herself as one of the sport's greats despite claiming her 12th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.The American beat Belgium’s Justine Henin in a classic women’s final 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 to win her fifth Australian Open title and move alongside Billie-Jean King on 12 Grand Slam singles successes.

She is now six titles behind Americans Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova and seven behind Helen Wills Moody in the all-time Grand Slam stakes.

Australian Margaret Smith Court, who presented Williams with her trophy on Saturday, is the all time leader on 24, with German Steffi Graf on 22.

But Williams said she did not think her name belonged on the same page as the greats of the game.

"I don’t even think of me as a great, I think of me just as normal," the 28-year-old said.

"I remember when I won eight and I thought it was so cool — eight grand slams!

"Now I’ve got 12 and, oh my gosh, it’s so cool."

As well as her five Australian titles — a record in the Open era — she has also won one French Open, three Wimbledons and three US Opens.

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Despite taking to the court with both ankles, her right knee, left thigh and one wrist heavily strapped, she won both the singles and doubles titles — with sister Venus — in Melbourne.

And she said she had no intention of slowing down in her quest for more major successes.

"I don’t see an end now — I feel like (I’ll keep playing) as long as I’m happy and I want to do it and I enjoy being out there," she said.

"Sometimes I think it gets a little bit redundant but I really love playing the Slams."

She is yet to achieve the ultimate for a tennis player — a calendar year Grand Slam — and said she was aware of her vulnerability on the clay courts of Roland Garros, a Grand Slam she won in 2002 but has not be able to repeat.

"I don’t think about it," she said. "Every time I think about it, I lose in the quarter-finals of the French Open.

"And, honestly, my best time to win was last year because I was up 5-3 in the third (against eventual champion Svetlana Kuznetsova) and I totally blew it.

"My whole goal is just to get fit because I plan on playing singles and doubles at Paris.

"So, if I do that, and I’m fit enough, then maybe I’m a chance."

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Williams said she would be happy just to be the leading Grand Slam winner — male or female — currently playing.

"I just want to be with Roger," she laughed, refering to Federer.

"I was trying to hunt him down, but the guy keeps winning. I’m like, dude, stop winning. The guy is amazing."

A more serious Williams said she would prefer to be remembered for her deeds off the court.

"To tie Billie-Jean King is cool but honestly my whole thing is to do what she did off the court," she said.

"I think of all the amazing things she’s done and that’s what I want to do with every aspect of my life, which means getting involved in charities and starting my own charity.

"In March I’m opening a second school in Kenya which I’m really nervous and excited about.

"I think when you’re given a talent you’re expected to give back, you’re not even expected, but I feel I want to give back, and that’s what I’m going to do."

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