Former world number one Serena Williams claimed her first WTA Tour title in three years after winning the Auckland Open on Sunday.
Not since winning the 2017 Australian Open had Williams clinched silverware – the 23-time grand slam champion a runner-up at Wimbledon (2018 and 2019) and the US Open (2018 and 2019), while she retired in the 2019 Rogers Cup final.
However, Williams ended her drought by defeating fellow American Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-4 in the women’s final in New Zealand.
“It feels good. It’s been a long time. I think you could see the relief on my face,” Williams said during her on-court interview before announcing she will donate her prize money (and a dress from each of her matches) to the bushfire relief effort in Australia.
Williams was almost flawless against Pegula, stepping up her preparations for the upcoming Australian Open with two aces and just one break of serve to capture her 73rd WTA crown – a record stretching across four decades after winning her first in 1999.
After a sluggish start, which saw the top seed fall 3-1 behind in the opening set, Williams eventually found her range en route to the 38-year-old’s first trophy as a mother.
After snapping a sequence of five defeats in finals since her 2017 triumph at the Australian Open, Williams will look to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 slam titles at Melbourne Park.
Meanwhile, defending champion and second seed Karolina Pliskova won the Brisbane International for a second straight year after outlasting Madison Keys in three sets.
Pliskova prevailed 6-4 4-6 7-5 over eighth seed Keys for her third victory at the WTA Premier event in Brisbane.
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