An emotional Serena Williams donated her $43,000 winner’s cheque from the WTA Auckland Classic to the Australian bushfire relief fund on Sunday.
It was the 38-year-old Williams’ first tournament victory in three years, but she tempered celebrations by saying her thoughts were with Australians.
“I’ve been playing in Australia for over 20 years and it’s been really hard for me to watch all the news and everything that has been happening in Australia with all the fire and … animals and people that have lost their homes.”
In addition to donating her winner’s cheque, Williams has also signed the dress she wore in the first round in Auckland and put it up for auction to raise funds for the Australian appeal.
Williams was under pressure at first against the 25-year-old Pegula, playing in her third WTA final, but asserted herself more as the match went on to claim her 73rd win in 98 finals and to add her name to a trophy won by her sister, Venus, in 2015.
“It feels good. It’s been a long time,” Williams said. “I think you can see the relief on my face.
“I played an incredible opponent today in Jessica and, honestly, it was a great match and I couldn’t have played anyone better in the final.”
The last three years have been challenging for Williams as she juggled to competing demands of tennis and motherhood. But she seemed to turn a corner during a demanding week in which she played both doubles and singles, turning out on all seven days of the tournament. – AFP