Serena Williams wins Auckland Open after victory over Jessica Pegula

Serena Williams wins Auckland Open after victory over Jessica Pegula

American tennis legend Serena Williams claimed her first title since returning from maternity break after defeating Jessica Pegula in the ASB Classic final on Sunday.

In an interview following that loss, Williams said she had not even "felt ready to pick up a racquet".

This is her first tennis title since becoming a mom three years ago. "It's just a step toward the next goal".

Earlier, the 23-time major victor Serena donated her $43,000 winner's check to the fundraising appeal for victims of Australian wildfires, joining many other tennis stars, such as Ash Barty, Nick Kygrios, Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova, who have pledged money to the already months-long fire emergency there.

Williams smashed two aces and dropped a serve against Pegula.

Little about the excellent performance of Osaka is remembered as the contest was overshadowed by Williams' furious exchange with umpire Carlos Ramos that saw her receive three code violations, resulting in a game penalty.

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Since winning her 23rd Grand Slam at the 2017 Australian Open, Williams had lost all five of her five previous finals, four at majors, a run that made the most dominant player in the modern era look fallible.

As regards her $43,000 prize money, The Guardian revealed that the 38-year-old would be the latest in the line of tennis stars to contribute to the fundraising appeal for victims of Australian wildfires. The American Amanda Anisimova also rose to 22nd place, Ekaterina Alexandrova rose by eight places to 25th to 26th.

Other ranking climbers were Elena Rybakina (No. 30), Jennifer Brady (No. 49) and Pegula (No. 64).

"I've been playing in Australia for over 20 years, so it's been really hard for me to watch the news", Williams said, according to Yahoo. "I've been out here for so long and been through so much". It's good to come and do what I do. "I'm so happy to do something that I absolutely love".

Wozniacki was playing her second-to-last tournament before retirement-the Australian Open will be her last-and she fulfilled a long-held ambition in Auckland to team with Williams in doubles.

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