While her practice partner Jarmere Jenkins was holding the singles ASB Classic trophy, the 23-time Major champion Serena Williams performed a cartwheel at an empty stadium in Auckland, celebrating her first WTA title since the Australian Open 2017!
In the title match, Serena took down Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-4 to get back on the winning way, thrilled to finally hold the trophy again after losing those four Major finals in the previous two years. Eager to make a strong start of the season after competing at just eight tournaments in 2019, Serena played well in the first week of the new year, lifting the 73rd WTA title and earning US$43,000.
Happy with the fact her daughter was there on the court to witness the trophy presentation, Serena decided to donate the entire prize money to the Australian bushfire relief fund, overwhelmed by the tragedy that hit many people, homes and animals in Australia.
Serena suffered only one break of serve after saving four break chances, taking 46% of the points on the return to manufacturing 15 opportunities, converting three to move over the top in straight sets despite having to work hard in some moments.
Pegula had those five break chances in the first couple of games, breaking Serena in the earliest stages after a backhand error from the top seed and creating more opportunities in game three. Serena fended off four break points there, avoiding an even more significant deficit and breaking back in game six following a deep return that Pegula failed to control.
With the momentum on her side, Williams landed a backhand winner to grab another break at 4-3, closing the set in the next game for a 6-3 and a big step towards the finish line. In the second set, Williams lost only four points behind the initial shot, sailing through her service games and moving in front with a break at love at 1-1 after forcing an error from Pegula.
The younger American repelled three match points on serve in the ninth game before Serena held at love a few minutes later for a long-awaited title ahead of the Australian Open.