MIAMI, FL, USA - The going was getting tough - her opponent was crushing winners off both wings and stormed out to a 5-2 lead in the first set - but Serena Williams was just getting going, and after an hour and 59 minutes she had a 75 61 win over Li Na and a record seventh Sony Open Tennis crown.
In a dream championship between the Top 2 players in the world, it was actually the No.2-ranked Li who came out stronger, her massive groundstrokes on song as she stormed out to a 5-2 lead.
But Williams wasn't done yet - she wasn't even done with the set. After closing the gap to 5-4, she saved a set point in the next game with a down-the-line backhand winner from behind the baseline and off her back foot, and after a series of massive returns she would sneak that first set out, 7-5.
Li put up a valiant fight in the second set, but by then Williams just had too much momentum - the American ended up winning 11 of the last 12 games of the match to close it out and get the title.
Williams already had the record for most Sony Open Tennis titles coming in but now increases the lead with her seventh (Steffi Graf had the previous record with five). She's one of only four players to win the same WTA event seven or more times (along with Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Graf).
Additionally, the Sony Open Tennis continues to be Williams' best tournament: she has reached more finals - nine - and won more titles - seven - at this tournament than at any other WTA tournament.
Li, who was looking for her 10th WTA title, was the first on the mic at the trophy ceremony.
"I have to say well done to Serena - you had a very good two weeks here," Li said.
The Chinese was then asked about the upcoming clay court season, and what she's focusing on now.
"Keeping healthy is the most important thing for me, and just trying to do the best I can," she said, before remembering one more thank you for the day. "Of course I want to thank my team as well!"
Trophy ceremony emcee Mary Joe Fernandez then asked if she wanted to thank her husband.
"No, coach first! Husband is later, who cares," Li, who has become renowned for her sense of humor about her husband, replied. "First my coach, and then my physio. Thanks a lot to both of them."
Williams, who hadn't won a title since the first week of the season, was next on the mic.
"It was a really important victory, especially playing Li Na, who has been playing so well," Williams said. "She started out so well - I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I just need to hang in here.' Then I heard some fans trying to pull me through - if it hadn't been for you guys I wouldn't be standing here right now."
Fernandez asked Williams how she managed to turn the match around from 5-2 down in the first set.
"Really, at that moment, I felt like I had nothing to lose and I was able to relax," she said.
"And whenever I relax, I enjoy myself."