(September 8, 2013) No. 1 Serena Williams won her 17th career major by defeating windy conditions and No. 2 Victoria Azarenka in the finals of the US Open 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1 on Sunday evening. It’s her fifth US Open title. Her 17th major title ties her with current ATP player and men’s all-time grand slam leader Roger Federer and puts her one behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova tied at 18 in fourth place, behind Margaret Court (24), Steffi Graf (22) and Helen Wills Moody (19) among the women. At 31, Williams became the oldest woman to win the US Open.
“It’s an honor to be even with Roger,” Williams said. “He’s been such a great champion throughout the years, and he’s just an unbelievable competitor and he’s still playing still, and he can probably still win more.
“So it feels really good to be, you know, in that same league as him. He’s just been so incredibly consistent, so we have had really different careers.
“Then to be compared with Crissy and Martina, not yet, because I’m still not quite there yet. I can’t necessarily compare myself to them, because, you know, numbers‑wise they’re still greater.”
“It’s always awesome and such a great honor, because I don’t know if I’ll ever win another Grand Slam,” the 17-time major winner said. “Obviously I hope so. I say that every time I win one.”
The win gives her a second straight US Open title. She also won US Open crowns in 1999, 2002, and 2008. She also beat Azarenka last year in the final. It’s Williams’ second major title of the year, she also won the French Open in June.
“I felt almost disappointed with my year, to be honest,” Williams said.. “I felt like, yeah, I won the French Open, but I wasn’t happy with my performances in the other two slams, and, you know, not even making it to the quarterfinals of one.
“So I definitely feel a lot better with at least a second Grand Slam under my belt this year.”
Both women exchanged breaks to begin the match, both adjusting to the extremely windy conditions. Both women gained control of the their serve and held until the eleventh game when Williams broke the 24-year-old Azarenka coming back from 40-15 down to take a 6-5 lead. Williams held at love to capture the first set 7-5. Azarenka was within 2 points of taking the first set on four separate occasions.
Williams opened the second set with a break, and went up a double break to 4-1. The Belarusian Azarenka broke Williams and held to get to 3-4. Serena sealed her 5-3 service game with a 119 mph serve.
Williams served for the match a 7-5, 5-4, only to be broken by Azarenka to even the set at 5-5. Williams broke right back to take a 6-5 lead to serve for the match a second timeand was broken again by Azarenka which sent the second set to a tiebreak.
In the tiebreak, Williams led 3-1, only to see her lead vanish and Azarenka take a 6-4 advantage. Williams saved two set points against her but Azarenka fought back and won the nest two points to win the set. 7-6(6).
Williams rebounded from a love-30 start to hold her opening game in the final set. In the third game Azarenka double-faulted to give Williams the break and a 3-1 lead. Williams gained an addition break in the fifth to move to a 5-1 lead.
“I wish I could do something better today,” Azarenka said. “I felt like I had opportunities in the first set, as well. But, I mean, it’s okay. It goes that way. I did everything I could.
“The game overall, there are things could have been better. But, you know, I gave my heart. I fought as hard as I could.
“So that’s what, you know, is important for me, that, you know, I lost to a great champion, but I still gonna have my head up.”
Williams held and closed the match to win it 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-1.
At 2 hours and 45 minutes, it was the longest women’s US Open final match since 1980.
“I think the third set, even though the score was 6‑1, was much closer,” Azarenka noted. “I had a lot of opportunities that I didn’t convert. She took those opportunities really well.
“So that’s more of the story that I feel happened. Not that, you know, that big gap of the 6‑1. Even in the last game, you know, last couple of games I had break points and stuff.
“Yeah, just, you know, looking back, I’ll just really taking good notes. There is no other way than going out there and working hard again, you know, to practice and keep going again.”
Azarenka was asked about playing in such windy conditions: “It’s not the wind. It’s not the sun. It’s about the match. You know, it’s about the ball. You try to do whatever it takes to win the point with whatever circumstances you’ve got to go through.
“But, yeah, it wasn’t pleasant. It wasn’t nice. Skirts were always, you know, lifting up. You had to pull it down all the time.”
“The wind was unbelievable today,” Williams agreed. “It just got worse and worse. It just never let up.
“But at this point you have to be able to play under any circumstances. It wasn’t very easy. I think I made a lot of errors because of that.”
Coming into the match Azarenka had a 31-1 record on hard courts, the best record on that surface for the year.
The win pushes up the American’s prize money for the season to over 9 million dollars, the first woman in tennis ever to do it. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had done it previously. Her career earnings will now pass 50 million dollars.
Williams earned a $3.6 million prize for her victory, including a $1 million bonus for winning the Emirates US Open Series after having the best results over the summer.
“I don’t play tennis for the money,” Williams explained. “I honestly love to play. I love Grand Slams.
“When I grew up playing tennis in Compton, I just never thought about any of this. I didn’t think about the press. I didn’t think about ‑‑ I didn’t even know all this came with everything.
“I think my dad got me into tennis because of the money, but me being naive and silly, I never thought about it.
“I just thought, I want to win. I wanted to do what Venus does. I want to win and I want to do more and I want to do more.
“To this day I have never ever picked up a check in my life.”
Williams praised Azarenka on court after the match:”What a great match and what a great person. Vika’s such a great opponent; she’s such a fighter. It was never over until match point.”
“We showed our hearts,” said the runner up Azarenka.
Williams hit nine aces during the match, one at 126 mph. She lead in winners against Azarenka 36-17. Williams leads the WTA in titles in 2013 with nine, a career best for her. She now has a 2013 match record 67-4 on the year.
“I did everything I could. I fought as hard as I could. But I lost to a great champion,” said Azarenka in her post match news conference.
“I’m just gonna take the best out of what happened today, because there are a lot of positive things,” Azarenka continued. “What’s negative is the result.
“But to take overall, you know, to see how much you rise to the occasion compared to the other matches, I think it’s pretty remarkable. And the challenge that is in front of me is only gonna make me more motivated.
“I think, you know, we showed today that, you know, woman’s game is really, really competitive.”
“I have been to finals the last three years here, and that’s been really kind of cool,” Williams said. “You know, I never thought I would win Australia five times. That’s been really cool. Wimbledon is a little different. But, you know, this one I never seem to have won a lot before. Now I’m like, yes, I can finally say I have won this one a few times, too. Overall, it feels really good to have those multiple titles in each of those three, actually.”
Williams’ win mark her 55th career tournament title. She ties Virginia Wade and Lindsay Davenport for seventh place on the Open Era list.