Battling nervous double faults, swirling windy conditions and a tenacious rival, Serena Williams in the end locked down her fifth career US Open title on Sunday night with a 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-1 victory over Victoria Azarenka in Flushing Meadows.
Up a set and 4-1, Williams served for the match twice in the second set but could not put down the Belarusian, who stormed back to force a tiebreak, then a third and deciding set.
In the third the younger Williams did not lose a game after 1-all to raise the victor’s trophy and collect $3.6 million in US Open prize money and US Open Series bonus, the largest payday in professional tennis.
The two-week payday and US Open Series bonus is more than twice the career earnings of former No. 1 Evonne Goolagong.
“I definitely felt the love today, so thank you all for the support — it’s an honor playing in New York, and I give all the love and glory to Jehovah,” Williams said on court. “Victoria’s such a great player and a great person too, and it was an honor to play against you.”
Williams tied Steffi Graf’s five US Open titles, and is now one behind the record six of Chris Evert.
It was a rematch of the three-set 2012 final, and came on the heels of a third-set tiebreak win for Azarenka this summer in Cincinnati.
“It is a tough loss,” said Azarenka, who after the handshake sat in her courtside chair and broke down in tears. “We showed our hearts, and we gave it everything we got.”
Williams has now won 17 Slams, one behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on the all-time list. She became at 31 years and 348 days the oldest US Open champion since Margaret duPont in 1950.
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