By Chris Oddo/ Sunday, October 27, 2013
Serena Williams started like a lamb, but finished like a lion in taking down Li Na for her fourth career WTA Championships title.
Photo Source: AP
It wasn't easy, but it was, as is typically the case when Serena Williams takes the court in a big-time final, awesome.
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Serena Williams overcame a sluggish start to claim her fourth WTA Championships title on Sunday in Istanbul, coming back from a set down to defeat Li Na, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0. The victory completes a remarkable season from Williams, one that saw her win two Grand Slams and achieve a career-best 78 wins and 11 WTA titles.
“I don't know how I got through that one,” said Williams after the match. “I just had a really long year.”
Williams also joins Martina Navratilova (8), Steffi Graf (5) and Chris Evert (4) as one of only four players to have won the prestigious championship more than three times. Her current 15-match winning streak at the event is good for second all-time behind Martina Navratilova's 21.
Never before had Williams played more than 80 matches in a single season, and she appeared to be feeling the effects of her long, grueling season, both in Saturday's seminal against Jelena Jankovic and today against Li.
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“I can't believe I won,” quipped Williams with smile. “I was so tired.”
As Williams sleepwalked at the onset, Li tap-danced to a quick lead, riding aggressive tactics and poinpoint serving to blitz Williams in the early going. It was a dominant display for Li, especially considering the fact that she had dropped eight consecutive decisions to Williams without taking a single set.
But Williams, fighting fatigue and without much pop on her vaunted serve, would soldier on and eventually take control in the second set. She survived a grueling, nine-deuce game in which she had to save two break points to take a 1-0 lead then broke in the next game for a 2-0 lead.
Though she would squander her 3-0 lead thanks in part to more fantastic play from Li, the 17-time Grand Slam champion would hit her stride from 3-3, reeling off the final nine games of the match to win in the same decisive fashion that she has conducted most of her on-court business in 2013.
When it was over Williams dropped to her knees and let her head rest on the court. Joy, fatigue and the culmination of one of the most dominant years in women's tennis history, all wrapped into one.
“It's really awesome,” said Williams, who finished the match with six aces and saved 12 of 15 break points, including all five she faced in the final set. “It's such a special moment. To finish the year No. 1, after 40 years of WTA, to win this title in means even more. I'm really just overjoyed.”