By Joseph Staszewski
Serena Williams ended a difficult season with a historic triumph.
The world’s No. 1-ranked player hadn’t reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament prior to the US Open this year, but played dominant tennis for two weeks in Queens.
Williams concluded it with a fairly easy 6-3, 6-3 victory over No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki last Sunday in front of 22,712 fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium to claim her third straight US Open women’s singles title. It is her sixth overall, tying her with Chris Everet-Lloyd for the most in the Open era. It is the third she has won without dropping a set.
The crown is also the 18th Grand Slam title of her career. The crown ties her with Martina Navratilova and Evert-Lloyd for fourth place all-time. Navratilova and Evert were on hand to present Williams with an 18-karat gold Tiffany’s bracelet with a No. 18 on the charm to commemorate the accomplishment.
“It means a lot to me,” Williams said of the milestone win. “I could never have imagined that I would be mentioned with Chris Everet[-Lloyd] and Martina Navratilova because I was just a kid with a dream and a racket, living in Compton.”
The 32-year-old did not play like herself for much of the season. She was knocked out of the fourth round of the Australian Open, the second round of the French and the third round at Wimbledon, where she said she was suffering from a viral infection.
Since then, Williams has lost just once. That was to sister Venus before winning the Toronto Masters heading into the US Open. Williams said she relaxed and didn’t put major expectations on herself coming into Queens.
“I definitely did not think I was going to win a slam this year,” Williams said.
Wozniacki admitted to being nervous early on and stressed the importance of getting off to a good start against Williams. The two broke each other’s serve twice in the first five games, but Wozniacki was unable to wrestle control of the match away from Williams.
It’s something she believes is hard to do for anyone in the world right now when the tennis great is playing well. Wozniacki had just one winner on an ace until the ninth game of the second set.
“I think when Serena is on her game, there is not much we can do,” Wozniacki said. “That’s why she has so many titles.”
Williams doesn’t want to get ahead of herself and said her focus is now on getting Grand Slam title No. 19 and not worrying about getting to the top of the all-time list and her place in the history of the sport. Her goal when she first started playing was to win the US Open. It’s something she doesn’t get tired of doing in front of the fans in Queens.
“It’s like no other roar at any stadium like the one on Arthur Ashe Stadium,” Williams said. “It’s a great feeling. I think it’s my favorite feeling.”