"I have been playing for so long and been through so much...I'm happy to be doing something I love," Serena Williams, multi-grand slam title holder and winner at Auckland smilingly said. When she packed her bags and headed to Auckland, New Zealand with husband and daughter, she might have had the same thoughs as she did entering any tournament.
"How far will I go? I will do the best that I can. I hope I can stay healthy enough to play the tournament." She went deep enough making it to the finals and without a health scare in sight, defeated Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-4.
At thirty-eight years of age, many players shake their heads and say they probably won't be playing on the professional circuit by then. The tennis game has taken a difficult, yet changing turn as players even thirty eight years ago might not have predicted it to evolveinto the powerful gameit is today.
But through it all Williams held steady with having a ababy and trying to get her body back in shape to play the game she and her sister learned as children on the courts of Compton, California. She's made it into finals after the birth of her daughter, but never to have won.
It was the U.S. Open this year that she was pitted against the many award winning young woman Bianca Andreescu who defeated her in straight sets. It was the Rogers Cup before that when she first met up with Andreescu in the final but suffered from a shoulder ailment, giving the Canadian teen the trophy.
"I'm sorry I couldn't do it today. I tried but I just couldn't do it," Williams had said tearfully upon accepting the runner-up check. But she was far from ailing in New Zealand as she overrode Jessica Pegula who hasn't seen a win since the CitiOpen this past August.
Serena Williams was apprehensive as to where this match would go as Jessica Pegula started off with some punishing down the lines and spirited corner winners. But Williams hung in there and it was definitely experience that helped her get back into the groove as she clinched her fist and showed a crying face glad to be pumping out some stinging winners.
She'd grabbed the first set 6-3 and led in the 2nd, 4-3 feeling that she had a grasp on this match and the title if she played it careful. She did for sure and won 6-3, 6-4, looking up to the crowds and the sky on her striking win.
"It feels good. It's been a long time. I think you can see the relief on my face," Williams had said dramatically. Jessica Pegula was just as impressed by her opponent's strategies as well as her own for getting into a final.
She'd been having a steady rise in the rankings lucky to have overcame a traumatci knee injury a few years ago. Serena Williams complimented her more than 10 years younger opponent saying "I played an incredible opponent today in Jessica and, honestly, it was a great match and I couldn't have played anyone better in the final."
Everyone was grateful for the wins and Serena Williams and partner and friend Caroline Wozniacki even made the doubles final but was dismantled by the young team of Taylor Townsend and Asia Muhammad. Each match played is bittersweet in the wake of the bushfires happening in Australia since months ago.
Players as Ash Barty, Nick Kygrios, Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova are few of the many who have donated for the relief efforts to contain and wipe out the Australian Bushfires. Serena Williams had proclaimed on giving away her singles prize money of $43,000 to the cause in the hopes that every bit will help in making the Australian Open a reality soon instead of a impossible dream.