Serena Williams heads to Australian Open in fine form after picking up first title in THREE years as she beats Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-4 to win ASB Classic in Auckland
- Serena Williams swept aside compatriot Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-4 in Sydney
- Her ASB Classic in Auckland triumph is her first tournament victory in 3 years
- The 38-year-old now heads into next week’s Australian Open as clear favourite
- Williams said she would donate her £36,000 prize to the victims of the bushfires
Serena Williams will head into next week’s Australian Open as the clear favourite after becoming the first woman to win tour titles in four different decades.
Even at 38 the American can command odds of barely 4-1 to emerge victorious from the season’s first Grand Slam, having underlined her early season form.
Williams defeated compatriot Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-4 in the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland, her relatively relaxed warm-up before heading to Melbourne.
Serena Williams won her first tournament in three years as she triumphed in the ASB Classic
Afterwards she announced that she would be donating her £36,000 prize money and the dress she wore to raise money for victims of the bushfires that are currently burning up Australia.
Auckland was, surprisingly, the first title of any description she has won since the Australian Open of 2017, a period which includes her layoff to give birth to her daughter.
While not the most memorable of her career, it comes nearly 21 years on from her winning the WTA indoor event in Paris in February 1999, demonstrating her astonishing longevity.
The 38-year-old swept aside compatriot Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-4 to win the £36,000 jackpot
Williams will donate the money to bushfire victims and is favourite for the Australian Open
Williams has lost four Grand Slam finals since returning after becoming a parent, and is hoping to claim her 24th Major in Melbourne.
‘It’s been a long time, I think you could see the relief on my face,’ she said after beating Pegula, whose billionaire father owns the Buffalo Bills in the NFL.
‘It definitely feels good, I’m definitely improving as the week went on, and I needed to because it’s been a lot of tough matches this week. I’ve played every day and I’m still here.’