Serena Williams ends 3-year drought, earns first singles title since giving birth

Serena Williams ends 3-year drought, earns first singles title since giving birth
Serena Williams celebrates after winning Sunday's final in Auckland, New Zealand. (Chris Symes/Photosport via AP)

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Serena Williams ended a three-year tennis title drought and claimed her first singles crown since becoming a mother, defeating Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-4 Sunday to win the ASB Classic.

It was Williams’ 73rd victory on the WTA Tour. She has reached a tournament final 98 times.

It was the first singles title for Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, since she won the Australian Open women’s singles crown in January 2017, ESPN reported. It was also the first time she had raised a trophy since the birth of Olympia later that year.

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Williams’ daughter was in the stands Sunday to watch her mother roll past Pegula, ESPN reported.

After winning the match with a backhand down the line, Williams raised her arms and looked skyward, The New York Times reported.

Since returning to the women’s pro tour circuit in early 2018, Williams reached five other finals but failed to win a set in any of those matches, the newspaper reported. Williams lost the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals in 2018 and 2019 and retired from the 2019 Rogers Cup final, according to the BBC.

“It feels good. It’s been a long time,” Williams told reporters after the match. “I think you can see the relief on my face.”

“I think it’s truly incredible that she’s still at the top of the game so many years later,” Madison Keys, who lost the Brisbane International final to Karolina Pliskova on Sunday, told the Times. “She has everything,” Keys said of Williams. “And when you’re playing her and you feel like you’re playing some of your best tennis, she just has another level. And the ability to do that year after year is just incredible.”

Williams’ sister, Venus, won the ASB Classic in 2015.