The last title secured by Serena Williams was in January 2017, but that changed on Sunday, Jan. 12 after she won the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand by beating Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-4.
It was the first title win for the 38-year-old since she gave birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia in September 2017.
After Sunday’s win, a thrilled-looking Williams threw her arms up and lifted her head to the sky, as the crowd stood and cheered. Williams’ daughter then joined her on the court.
“It’s been a long time. I think you could see the relief on my face,” she said after the match, according to CNN. “It’s pretty satisfying just to get a win in the final. That was really important for me, and I just want to build on it. It’s just a step towards the next goal.”
The California native also explained what it took mentally to achieve Sunday’s victory.
“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,” Williams stated.
Williams, a mother of one, received $43,000 for the victory and said she’d donate all of it toward Australia bushfire relief efforts.
The fires have been burning since September 2019, and as of last week 14 million acres of land have been burned, more than 20 people have died and around 1 billion animals have been killed.
Williams also will join other tennis pros such as Naomi Osaka and Rafael Nadal in a charity tennis match. It will take place on Jan. 15 at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and all of the proceeds will be donated to bushfire relief efforts.
Williams will be playing in the Australian Open as well, which is from Jan. 20 to Feb. 2.