Serena donates ASB Classic winnings to wildfire victims

Serena Williams ends tennis title drought in New Zealand

Even better? On Sunday (a week before the Australian Open), Williams won her first title in 3 years since giving birth to her daughter Olympia, beating fellow American Jessica Pegula, 6-3, 6-4, at the ASB Classic in New Zealand.

"It definitely feels good; it feels like I was definitely improving as the week went on, and obviously I needed to".

The Australian Open begins on 20 January, with Williams bidding to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

She said after her victory that she would donate her prize money in Auckland and a dress she had worn to the Australian bushfire appeal. "It's been a long time; you can see the relief on my face".

In a speech after her victory tweeted by the Women's Tennis Association, Williams described the effects of the devastating fires that are scorching a country in which she has been active for so long.

Williams' title drought included losses in the finals of four Grand Slam tournaments. The younger American repelled three match points on serve in the ninth game before Serena sealed the deal with a hold at love a few minutes later for a long-awaited title ahead of the Australian Open.

"It's pretty satisfying to get a win in a final", Williams told reporters. "That was really important for me". With the momentum on her side, Serena landed a backhand victor to grab another break in game eight, closing the set in the next game for a 6-3 and a big step towards the finish line. "Obviously it is a step towards the next goal in Melbourne".

Williams, in her fourth decade on the WTA Tour, lost the Wimbledon and US Open finals in 2018 and 2019 and retired from the 2019 Rogers Cup final.

"I've been playing in Australia for over 20 years and it was very hard for me to see all the news ..." said Williams.

The 25-year-old continued in the same fearless vein at the start of the final, seemingly untroubled by her heavily bandaged left thigh as she chased down everything Williams delivered and even broke in the opening game.



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