NEW YORK, NY, USA - Some had their doubts, and some had been writing her off. But Serena Williams showed she's still the best in the business, defeating Caroline Wozniacki for her 18th Grand Slam title and tying Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for second-most in the Open Era.
It was a bit of a scratchy beginning for both players - after Williams fought off break point to hold in the first game, five straight breaks of serve followed. But that early hold turned out to be a big one as Williams came out of that stretch with a 4-2 lead, eventually closing the 40-minute set out, 6-3.
The second set was exactly the same yet completely the opposite - after Williams broke Wozniacki in the opening game, neither player budged on their serve for seven straight games, with Williams emerging from that streak of games up 5-3, and Wozniacki about to serve to stay in the match.
The No.1-seeded Williams didn't wait - she broke the No.10-seeded Wozniacki to win it, 6-3, 6-3.
The match numbers painted a picture of how aggressive Williams was during the match: 29 winners to 23 unforced errors. Meanwhile, Wozniacki finished with fewer errors, 15, but just four winners.
Wozniacki, who gave Williams a big congratulatory hug, was extremely gracious in defeat.
"First of all, congratulations to Serena, you really deserved it today," Wozniacki said in the trophy ceremony. "You're an unbelievable champion and an inspiration to me on and off the court.
"I would also like to thank the crowd for being so amazing these two weeks. You guys have been supporting me through everything, and it wouldn't be the same without you. Thanks to all of you."
Williams echoed the sentiment to her good friend. "I'd like to say congratulations to Caroline. She knows the struggles I've been through - we text almost every day. Caroline I know you're going to win one very soon, maybe even in Australia, so I've got to go home and get ready for you there!"
The World No.1 then fought back tears as everything really started to hit her.
"It's a pleasure for me to win No.18 here," she said. "I couldn't ask to do it at a better place."
As mentioned above, Williams has now tied her fellow WTA legends Evert and Navratilova for second-most Grand Slam titles in the Open Era. Steffi Graf leads that list with 22 Grand Slam titles.
There's even more history to this victory: Williams has now tied Evert for most US Open titles in the Open Era with six; she's just the second woman in the Open Era to three-peat here, also after Evert, who actually won four in a row from 1975 to 1978; and, at 32, she's also the second-oldest player to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era after a 33-year-old Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1990.
And one more thing. While in years past women's tennis was fighting for - and achieving - equal prize money, Williams has now raised the bar on the biggest prize money payout in the history of the sport, male or female, with $4 million. She earned $3 million for winning the US Open title and received a $1 million bonus on top of that for winning the Emirates Airline US Open Series in the lead-up.
@serenawilliams you have surpassed Legend status. You are EPIC!!
? Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) September 8, 2014