Former world number one Serena Williams lifted her first title since 2017 by rallying past her fellow American Jessica Pegula in straight sets in the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland on Sunday.
The 38-year-old dominated her opponent Pegula in both service game and return game to seal a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 triumph in the all-American summit showdown of the women's singles event of the Auckland Open that lasted one hour and 35 minutes.
In the opening set, it was Pegula who made the breakthrough first by breaking Williams in her first service game before again troubling her opponent in the next service game to take a commanding 3-0 lead. However, Williams rebounded strongly as she held a crucial service game, broke Pegula twice and won five consecutive games to clinch the set.
Williams then carried the momentum in the second set as well as she gained four break points in the 25-year-old's opening service game. However, Pegula denied all the four break chances to win her first game of the set.
The former world number one then broke Pegula for the third time in the match to take a 4-3 lead before Williams held her nerves to eventually emerge victorious.
With the win, the 23-time Grand Slam champion sealed her first title in three years and first since becoming a mother. Overall, it is the 73rd Women's Tennis Association (WTA) title for Williams.
On Saturday, Williams hardly broke a sweat throughout her last-four match as she clinically dispatched her 18-year-old opponent Amanda Anisimova 6-1, 6-1 in just 45 minutes to storm into the final.
Williams will now seek to tie Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles when she heads into the first major of the season i.e Australian Open from January 20.