Serena Wil­liams wins 3rd US Open in row, 18th Slam

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - SPORTS - By HOWARD FEN­DRICH

NEWYORK— Serena Wil­liams ended a dif­fi­cult-for-her Grand Slam sea­son in the best way pos­si­ble, win­ning her third con­sec­u­tive U.S. Open cham­pi­onship and 18th ma­jor ti­tle over­all.

And like each of her matches at Flush­ing Mead­ows the past two weeks, the fi­nal wasn’t close at all — a 6-3, 6-3 vic­tory over good friend Caro­line Woz­ni­acki that lasted only 75 min­utes Sun­day.

Wil­liams equaled Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova with 18 Grand Slam sin­gles ti­tles, the fourth-most in his­tory. Wil­liams also matched Evert’s to­tal of six cham­pi­onships at the U.S. Open and be­came the first woman to win three in a row since Evert’s four-ti­tle run from 1975-78.

Not only did Wil­liams, ranked and seeded No. 1, win all 14 sets she played in the tour­na­ment, she never even dropped more than three games in any of them.

When the fi­nal ended, Wil­liams dropped to her back be­hind the base­line, cov­er­ing her hands with her face. Her first ma­jor trophy also came in New York, in 1999, when she was 17.

“It is a plea­sure for me to win my first Grand Slam here and then this No. 18,” Wil­liams said, her voice chok­ing. “So I’m re­ally emo­tional. I couldn’t ask to do it at a bet­ter place.”

Wil­liams earned $4 mil­lion, a record in ten­nis — $3 mil­lion for the ti­tle, plus a $1 mil­lion bonus for hav­ing had the best re­sults dur­ing the North Amer­i­can sum­mer hard-court cir­cuit. Evert and Navratilova joined her on court dur­ing the trophy and check cer­e­mony.

Wil­liams also has won five ti­tles apiece at Wim­ble­don and the Aus­tralian Open, plus two at the French Open. Only three play­ers have more Slams to their credit: Mar­garet Court with 24, St­effi Graf with 22, and He­len Wills Moody with 19.

Un­til the U.S. Open, though, Wil­liams had not been at her best on her sport’s big­gest stages in 2014. She lost in the fourth round at the Aus­tralian Open, the sec­ond round at the French Open, and the third round at Wim­ble­don, where a dis­ori­ented Wil­liams also strug­gled through an odd ap­pear­ance in dou­bles that was at­trib­uted to a vi­ral ill­ness.

Back at the top of her game, Wil­liams broke Woz­ni­acki’s serve five times and com­piled a hard-to-be­lieve 29-4 edge in win­ners.

“You re­ally de­served it to­day. You played bet­ter than me,” the 24-year-old Woz­ni­acki said. “You’re an un­be­liev­able cham­pion and you’re an in­spi­ra­tion to me, both on and off the court. You’re an un­be­liev­able friend — and you def­i­nitely owe drinks later.”

Re­mark­ably, un­til a cross-court back­hand on the run in the fi­nal game that Wil­liams applauded, the only win­ners regis­tered by the 10th-seeded Woz­ni­acki came on a trio of aces.

That was, in part, a re­sult of the Dane’s iffy play in only her sec­ond Grand Slam fi­nal — she lost to Kim Cli­jsters at the 2009 U.S. Open — but mainly due to Wil­liams’ re­lent­less pur­suit of ev­ery ball.

A few weeks shy of her 33rd birth­day, mak­ing the Amer­i­can the old­est ma­jor cham­pion since Navratilova was 33 at Wim­ble­don in 1990, Wil­liams pow­ered this way and that in her black-and­pink high­tops. Woz­ni­acki is the one train­ing for the New York City Marathon, but she was tuck­ered out by the end.

Charles Krupa/The As­so­ci­ated Press

Serena Wil­liams, of the United States, holds up the cham­pi­onship trophy after de­feat­ing Caro­line Woz­ni­acki, of Den­mark, dur­ing the cham­pi­onship match of the 2014 U.S. Open.

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