Serena Williams donates ASB Classic prize money to Australian bushfire aid

Ross Houston
January 14, 2020

However, the weight of her title drought has now been lifted going into the first slam of the year at Melbourne Park, where she is the bookmakers' favourite to equal Margaret Court's all-time record for major wins. She defeated Jessica Pegula in the ASB Classic final this past Sunday.

The celebration after her Auckland Classic victory was not as effusive as some of her previous 72 title wins, and the $43,000 winner's cheque, which she donated to Australia bushfire relief efforts, was a drop in the ocean for someone who has won nearly $93 million in career prize-money.

She did not play a warm-up tournament ahead of last year's Australian Open and fell in the quarter-finals, and her appearance in Auckland was created to get more matches under her belt before she headed to Melbourne.

"It feels good. It's been a long time".

"I've been playing in Australia for over 20 years, and it's been really hard for me to watch all the news".

So much has happened, so I decided at the beginning of the tournament in every match I played, I'd donate a dress and also all my prize money for a great cause.

Indeed, Serena has played it so strategically over the past few years that many have not even realised just how long it has been since she won a title.

Though Williams won the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant, she has experienced plenty of frustration since returning to the circuit following the birth of her daughter. "I think you could see the relief on my face".

The tournament top seed slipped 1-3 behind in the first set against the unseeded Pegula, a fellow American. The daughter of Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula, she won her first WTA title in 2019 and appeared to be a star on the rise in all her matches in Auckland.

Since she hit the court professionally in 1995 at the age of 15, the now-38-year-old has won 23 singles Grand Slam championships, more than any other female player in an Open era, including the iconic Stefi Graff. She then held serve to love and broke Pegula for 5-3, serving out the first set.

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