Williams led 4-0 before Sharapova held again, avoiding the most lopsided women’s final ever in the Australian Open.
Serving for the match, Williams fired two aces to earn triple match point, then finished it off in 1 hour, 3 minutes with the backhand winner.
With occasional showers and a strong wind outside, the roof was closed on packed Rod Laver Arena.
Williams missed nine tournaments immediately after losing in the third round at the Australian Open last year and played only 16 matches in 2006, when she slumped as low as No. 140 in the rankings.
Her win over No. 5 Nadia Petrova in the third round this time was her first over a top-10 player since she won the 2005 tournament.
Rafael Nadal is currently ranked fourth in the world, but has had a dominant run lately as he has won seven of the last eight French Open titles. Mary Carrillo thinks we’re in store for a Nadal-Djokovic final.
Scenes from Down Under
Check out the best images from the 2013 Australian Open.
The best of Wimbledon
The best images from the Grand Slam tournament at the All-England Club.
French Open 2012: Top 10 Shots
June 10, 2012: John McEnroe, Ted Robinson, and Mary Carillo look back at the Top Ten best moments from the 2012 French Open.