Williams' 18th win puts her in good company
SERENA Williams continued rewriting the tennis record book, and she was wearing the proof.
The American, who beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-3 on Sunday to claim her third straight US Open title, spent part of the night admiring her new Tiffany bracelet.
Adorned with the number 18 and made with 18-carat gold, it was presented to her by Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert for securing her 18th Grand Slam singles title, tying them for second most in the professional era that began in 1968.
"I'll see if I can play with it," Williams said. "I'm not sure if I can."
The victory, her sixth at the National Tennis Centre, also tied Williams with Evert for the most in the professional era.
Williams, the 32-year-old women's top seed, beat the 10th-seeded Wozniacki to join Evert (1975-78) as the only women in the professional era to win at least three straight championships in New York.
Denmark's Wozniacki, a 24-year-old who has spent 67 weeks atop the world rankings during her career, fell to 0-2 in Grand Slam finals, with her other loss coming at the 2009 US Open to Kim Clijsters of Belgium.
"I went out a bit nervous, and playing a champion like Serena you have to go for it from the start," Wozniacki said. "Today, she was just too good."
The previous woman with three straight wins in any Slam was Justine Henin at the French Open from 2005 to 2007.
It is the first Grand Slam title of the year for Williams, who has won a WTA Tour-best six tournaments this year and tops the world rankings - yet failed to reach the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, French Open or Wimbledon.
"I definitely did not think I was going to win a Slam this year," she said. "And I even said I'm ready to start next year already. Let's put this behind me."
After losing in the third round at Wimbledon, she took a mini-break, practising less than she had been, to give herself a chance to recharge mentally.
The change paid off, as Williams gets US$3 million (S$3.8 million) for the win, along with a US$1 million bonus for clinching the US Open Series title based on tournaments leading up to the New York event. That extends her women's record on-court career earnings to US$60.9 million.
Williams, who turns 33 in less than three weeks, is the oldest women's winner at the season's final Grand Slam since Sarah Palfrey Cooke in 1945 at age 33.
Williams also won the US Open in 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012 and last year, making it her most successful Grand Slam. She has won five titles each at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, along with two at the French Open. In the professional era, German Steffi Graf is the only woman to win more Slams: 22.
Asked if she was thinking about challenging Graf's record, Williams said no.
"I am thinking about 19, which I'm kind of disappointed - it hasn't even been three hours and I have already mentioned 19," she said. "But not 22. I'm taking it one at a time."