It turns out the reality of being Australian Open champion is even better than Sofia Kenin dared to dream it would be.
The newly-crowned queen of Melbourne Park was all smiles on Sunday as she held aloft the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in the morning sun beside the Yarra River for the traditional champion’s photo shoot.
“I obviously have imagined this but it’s so much better,” Kenin said.
“It’s so surreal just experiencing this … to have this happen is just incredible.
“I’ve always wanted to win a grand slam, I’ve always envisioned it.
“But it’s such a surreal experience, it’s so much different to when I was picturing it in my room.
“All of this is so nice; I love this attention with the media and everything, it’s really fun.”
The 21-year-old made her grand slam dream come true with a gutsy 4-6 6-2 6-2 win over two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night.
She paid tribute to her family for helping her achieve her lifelong goal and revealed a strong desire to prove unnamed doubters wrong was a motivating force.
“I’ve been through a tough patch when not many people believed in me, people overlooked me and I finally did it and proved them all wrong,” she said.
“But first of all I did it for myself and my family because they’re a huge part of my success and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
“The people that didn’t believe in me I proved them wrong.
“I’m just so proud of myself.”
The Russian-born American will rise up the WTA rankings from 15th to seventh.
Having knocked off world No.1 and local favourite Ashleigh Barty in their semi- final at Melbourne Park, Kenin has her sights on fulfilling another dream to climb to the top of the rankings this year.
“I hope so. I would love to; that’s my dream,” she said.
“I want to strive and get there.
“But baby steps and hopefully it will happen.”