Serena Williams and her weird celebration after winning Auckland

Serena Williams

Jessica Pegula, daughter of Buffalo Bills owners, to face Serena Williams in the Auckland Open final

Serena Williams spoke of her sense of relief after opening the new tennis season with her first singles title for nearly three years.

Instead, it was the 25-year-old Pegula, the world 82nd-ranked player who won her only WTA title at the Washington Open last year, who came out on top.

"She's pulled up a bit sore after playing (at the ASB Classic) in Auckland so as a precaution ahead of the Open she's decided not to play", tournament director Peter Johnston said.

Moreover, she determined to donate her $43,000 ASB Basic prize to the entire effort to extinguish the Australia bushfires and assist these affected, be it wildlife or individuals in peril and shedding their houses.

The 29-year-old Dane, who was beaten by Pegula in the singles semi-finals, is retiring after the Australian Open, which runs from Jan 20 to February 2.

The victory earned Williams her 73rd singles title since she made her pro debut at Québec City in 1995-and her first since returning to the sport in 2018 after giving birth to her daughter Alexis (who was in the stands to watch her mom play today).

Three women have achieved what Williams will set out to do at the Australian Open this month by claiming a major title with a child in tow; Court, fellow Australian great Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, and Belgian Kim Clijsters.

Williams broke the unseeded Pegula's serve early in the second set and converted her fourth match point to ensure victory.

The 38-year-old Williams defeated Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-4 during the contest.

Asked whether she felt patronised by near-constant mentions of her motherhood, Williams said her emotion instead was pride. However, before it's time to celebrate and she did it in a rather freaky way as per her post on Instagram.

Williams, whose last title win was in January of 2017, was clearly filled with so many emotions.

But fast forward to yesterday and Williams got to share her winning moment with her daughter on court, cloaked in a korowai to the sound of cheers and applause from a delighted Auckland crowd.

The unseeded Pegula was broken twice when losing the first set before adopting an aggressive approach that fifth-seed Wozniacki had no answer for.

'It definitely feels good, I'm definitely improving as the week went on, and I needed to because it's been a lot of tough matches this week. "It's just a step towards the next goal", Williams added.

"You have to be your biggest cheerleader, especially if you're feeling you're not doing everything right - or even if you are doing everything right but things aren't working out for you", she said.

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