serena_williams.jpgMELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Serena Williams won her second straight Australian Open championship, ending Justine Henin's hopes of a Grand Slam title in her return from retirement with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 victory Saturday.

Williams withstood a determined challenge from Henin before securing her fifth Australian Open title overall and 12th Grand Slam singles championship overall, tying Billie Jean King.

Williams is now halfway to the record 24 major titles held by Margaret Court, who was at Melbourne Park to hand over the championship trophy to Williams.

“I’d like to congratulate Justine for having a fabulous tournament. She gave me all I could handle tonight,” said Williams, who won her previous four titles here in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009.

It was a match of twists and turns that forced Williams to dig deep to defeat Henin, who was playing in only her second tournament after leaving the game for 20 months. Henin’s return was the emotional high point for the tournament as she seemed to rediscover the magic that had propelled her to seven Grand Slam titles.

Over a two-hour-and-seven-minute match on Saturday, Henin’s shot making and grit often matched that of Williams, especially in a furious second set and the opening of the third – a span in which Henin won five straight games and 15 consecutive points.

The last time a women’s Grand Slam went three sets was at Wimbledon in 2006, when Henin lost to Amelie Mauresmo.

Pictured above is Serena Williams.