More than thirteen years after winning her first US Open title in 1999 at the age of seventeen, Serena Williams has done it again, defeating Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 in one of the most thrilling Finals matches ever held inside the Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows.
Williams, who is now 30 years old, captured her 4th US Open crown. She is also the first woman at the age 30 to win at the US Open since Martina Navratilova, who did it in 1987.
With this victory, Williams, who’s other US Open wins came in 2002 and 2008, now represents the longest span of success in Grand Slam tournaments during the professional era.
“Three decades. The 90s, 2000s, 2010s… That’s kind of cool,” said Williams.
However, this achievement was not handed to her on a silver platter as Azarenka broke Williams’ aura of invincibility by taking the second set handily, 6-2. That was the first time Williams had dropped a set in the entire tournament.
One hour and 58 minutes into the match, Azarenka seemingly had Williams in a precarious situation. The 23 year old Belarusian had just won three straight games to lead Williams in the third and deciding set, 5 games to 3. But, Williams stayed composed and took the ninth game emphatically. Serving for the match and for her first US Open title, Azarenka was denied as Williams broke her serve to square things up 5-all. Moments later, Williams’ comeback became complete as Azarenka’s backhand went beyond the baseline.
“I never give up. I never, never quit. I have come back so many times in so many matches,” said Williams.
“Obviously, I would’ve wanted to win easy. But, at the same time, this is more exciting to win because you don’t really know what’s coming. You don’t know what to expect and then you get it. This is the best feeling I think in tennis.”
In contrast to what Williams was experiencing, Azarenka was heartbroken with the outcome of the match. She put a towel on her face to absorb all her hears as Williams was jumping up and down the hard court to the cheers of her fellow countrymen. But, as soon as the awarding ceremony began, Azarenka commendably put on a smile and accepted reality.
“Serena deserves to win. She showed how true a champion she is and I’m just honored to be standing with such a champion here,” said an emotional Azarenka who received a huge applause by the American contingent for her splendid performance.
Now, a 15-time Grand Slam champion, Williams revealed her definition of what being a true champion is all about.
“I really think that a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall. I have fallen several times. You see great people like Muhammad Ali, who is a complete person I have always looked up to in sports. I just really think that defines a champion.”