SERENA WILLIAMS warmed up for Melbourne’s Australian Open by claiming her first title since being a mother in September 2017.
The US 38-year-old reeled off an empathetic 6-3 6-4 success over compatriot Jessica Pegula to claim the ABS Classic crown in Auckland, New Zealand on Sunday (January 12).
Victory for the 23-time Grand Slam champion will no doubt have boosted her morale ahead of the year’s opening major, especially after US president Donald Trump tweeted “Congratulations to Serena Williams on another big win. She is a great player and an even greater person.”
The 2017 Australian Open had been her last title, when she defeated her sister Venus in the final.
And despite having since reached the finals at the US Open and Wimbledon, she has constantly fluffed the chance to equal the record of 24 Grand Slam singles crowns held by Australian Margaret Court – not even winning a set in her finals at Flushing Meadows and the All England Club respectively.
During her winning speech at Auckland, Williams vowed to donate her prize money to the Australian Bushfire Relief Funds. She also announced that she will put all of her dresses that she wore at the tournament up for auction for the Funds.