Serena Williams admits ‘relief’ after ending three-year title wait at ASB Classic

Serena Williams (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Serena Williams (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images) /

A first WTA Tour title in three years left Serena Williams with a feeling of relief and her play this week was a warning to her Australian Open rivals.

Serena Williams has capped an impressive week at the ASB Classic with her first title on the WTA Tour for three years.

And the 38-year-old said afterwards “you could see the relief on my face” as her run of final defeats, which had reached four in majors and five in all WTA events, finally came to an end.

Serena last won a tournament at the 2017 Australian Open, when she was remarkably at least eight weeks pregnant at the time, with this victory being her first since returning from giving birth.

After a long wait and many heart-breaking defeats, Serena got her hands on silverware once more with a 6-3 6-4 triumph against Jessica Pegula in one hour and 35 minutes, to cap an event which has given her perfect preparation for the upcoming 2020 Australian Open.

Serena still 'confident' on Grand Slam record. light. More

Serena was broken in her first service game of the match, but she turned it around from there and Pegula, who had beaten Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals, had no answer.

The winning moment, on her fourth championship point, saw Serena hit a backhand winner down the line before raising her arms to the air and letting out an almighty roar.

Serena acknowledged her relief at getting over the line in quotes covered by the BBC.

"“It feels good. It’s been a long time, I think you could see the relief on my face,” said Serena Williams.“I played an incredible opponent in Jessica and honestly it was a great match.“I have been playing for so long and been through so much. I’m happy to be doing something I love.”"

After wining her 73rd career singles title, Serena shared the moment with her daughter Alexis Olympia, who joined her for the trophy presentation. The champion said: “I’m a little biased but she’s so cute.”

The win also ensured Serena had earned WTA Tour titles in four different decades, given her first trophy arrived in 1999.

Afterwards, the 23-time Grand Slam champion announced she would donate her winner’s check and all the match dresses she has worn this week to the Australian bushfire relief fund.

Following an easy first-round win, Serena had overcome a scare in her next match against Christina McHale, which proved to be the only singles contest in New Zealand where she dropped  a set.

She then finished the week sensationally, a straight sets quarterfinal win over Laura Siegemund followed by a 43-minute 6-1 6-1 demolition of Amanda Anisimova in the last four and a victory over Pegula that saw her rediscover the winning feeling.

No title double for Serena Williams

As well as her singles glory, Serena Williams had a successful and enjoyable week in the doubles alongside close friend Caroline Wozniacki.

The duo won three matches in straight sets to reach the final but ultimately came up just short at the last stage against American pair Taylor Townsend and Asia Muhammad, who won 6-4 6-4 on Sunday to claim their first doubles crown.

Australian Open: Andreescu withdrawal boosts Serena

Serena’s two finals came after the withdrawal of Bianca Andreescu from the Australian Open.

Andreescu had already pulled out of the ASB Classic due to her continuing recovery from a knee injury and now the first Grand Slam of the year has also come too soon for her.

The withdrawal of the US Open champion, who beat Serena in a famous Flushing Meadows final and was rarely beaten when she was fit enough to play in 2019, boosts the hopes of the American.

It will also help the chances of the other remaining top contenders like Karolina Pliskova, Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty, all of whom would have taken note of Serena’s success.

Bouchard loves Auckland, moves on to Melbourne

Eugenie Bouchard expressed her thanks to the fans in Auckland, saying on social media she loves playing there after a fine week she hopes can begin a 2020 season that rebuilds her career.

The Canadian entered the tournament on a wildcard ranked down at 262 in the world and recorded her first main WTA Tour win in 11 months by beating Kirsten Flipkens.

She then followed that up with a fine triumph over number eight seed Caroline Garcia, before a battling three-set loss at the hands of Anisimova in the quarterfinals.

Next. Novak's Aus Open dominance. dark

Now, Bouchard will turn her attention to qualifying for the Australian Open, where Serena Williams is the favorite for glory and pursuing the all-time Grand Slam record.