AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – JANUARY 12: Serena Williams of USA celebrates with the trophy after winning the final match against Jessica Pegula of USA at ASB Tennis Centre on January 12, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Serena Williams emerged victorious at the ASB Classic, winning her first tennis title since becoming a mother three years ago.
The tournament, hosted in Auckland, New Zealand, was a big moment for Williams, who won in a tension-filled final match against fellow American Jessica Pegula. Over the course of her career, Williams has won 23 Grand Slam tournaments. Though Williams regularly made it to the final round in other competitions, her last title win was in January 2017 while she was still pregnant with her daughter, Alexis Olympia. “It feels good,” Williams said, reports CNN. “It’s been a long time. I’ve been waiting two years for this moment. I think you could see the relief on my face.” Shortly after her win, Williams’ daughter joined her on the court to celebrate.
“You have to be your biggest cheerleader, especially if you’re feeling you’re not doing everything right — or even if you are doing everything right but things aren’t working out for you,” Williams told CNN. Williams is a fighter both on and off the court. She is known as a fierce competitor, but also as someone who will speak her mind and say what needs to be said. She’s fought for equal pay, women in sports, and representation.
Williams chose not just to advocate for herself in her career, but to use her career to advocate for others. Following the match, she announced that she would donate her winnings, $43,000, to the Australian bushfire relief. To add to relief efforts, Williams, along with fellow tennis players Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, will play in a charity match called Australian Open Rally for Relief on January 15 to raise funds for the cause. All of the ticket proceeds will be donated to relief efforts.
“This unprecedented bushfire crisis is devastating people, properties, communities, livestock, and animals across the country and our hearts go out to all those affected,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said in a statement.
Williams’ run of tournaments doesn’t stop there. After the Rally for Relief, Williams is headed to the Australian Open days later. She is up for her 24th major title.
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