NEW YORK —
When it came time to close the deal yet again, Williams shined. She has six of the eight winners in the third set, forced Azarenka into 15 miscues, and soon enough, was hopping up and down after finishing with a service winner. Williams kept pumping her fist afterward, even while sipping from a water bottle.
Azarenka faltered late, the way she did when losing the last four games in the 2012 final. She hit two of her seven double-faults while getting broken to 3-1 in the third set, then could only watch as Williams hit a pair of aces in the next game.
“She really made it happen,” Azarenka said. “In that particular moment, she was tougher today. She was more consistent, and she deserved to win.”
No. 1-seeded Novak Djokovic faces No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the men’s final Monday. It’s the first time since 1996 that both U.S. Open singles finals are 1-vs.-2 matchups.
On Sunday, with former President Bill Clinton among the announced crowd of 23,584 in Arthur Ashe Stadium, and Williams’ older sister Venus in a front-row seat, the fans were mostly cheering for the American.
“I definitely felt the love,” Williams said, “so thank you all so much for the support.”
She equaled Steffi Graf with five U.S. Open titles, one behind Evert’s record of six in the Open era, which began in 1968. Williams never had won two consecutive U.S. Opens, but now she has, adding to the trophies she earned in New York in 1999 — at age 17 — then 2002 and 2008.
Those go alongside five from Wimbledon, five from the Australian Open, and two from the French Open, which she won this year.
Williams also became the first woman to surpass $9 million in prize money in a single season, while topping $50 million for her career.
“It’s incredible what she’s achieving,” Azarenka said. “She’s playing definitely her best tennis right now. It really shows how focused and how composed and how much she can raise the level.”
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