Williams breaks three-year title drought to win in Auckland


WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Serena Williams won her first title since the 2017 Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Jessica Pegula at the Auckland Classic on Sunday, but couldn't finish the perfect week in New Zealand when she did that Double lost final.

Serena Williams from the USA.
Robert German-USA TODAY sports / file photo

38-year-old Williams, who promised to donate all of her prize money to Australian bushfire aid organizations, and good friend Caroline Wozniacki were beaten 6: 4: 6: 4 by the American duo Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend.

The result meant that Wozniacki was unable to say goodbye to a tournament for which she has played in New Zealand's largest city since 2015.

The 29-year-old Dane, who was beaten by Pegula in the semifinals, will be eliminated after the Australian Open from January 20 to February 2.

"I was very happy to come back here," said Wozniacki after the tournament organizers gave a special presentation before the double trophy was awarded to Muhammad and Townsend.

"Serena, thanks for playing doubles with me. It was so much fun and I just regret that we didn't do it earlier.

"I had such a great time and it's rare to have so much fun on the pitch and it was a really fun way to graduate in Auckland."

Williams & # 39; individual victory, however, earned the American her 73rd WTA title and broke an almost three-year drought, despite having appeared in five finals since winning her 23rd Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open in 2017.

She chases Australian Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam titles, but has lost two Wimbledon and two US Open finals since her 6: 4: 6: 4 win over older sister Venus in Melbourne.

"It feels good, it's been a long time," said Williams. "I played an incredible opponent in Jessica and frankly it was a great game."

Williams had struggled for consistency earlier in the week, but sent a threatening message to the Australian Open when she beat promising teen Amanda Anisimova 6-1 and 6-1 in the semifinals and defeated an impressive Pegula on Sunday.

"I definitely improved over the week and had to play some tough games," said Williams.

“I feel happy and blessed to be out here, to be healthy and to play. I've played for so long and been through so much and I'm happy to do something I love. "

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Clarence Fernandez