Serena battles back for fourth US crown
Serena Williams staged a brilliant fightback to win her 15th grand slam singles title at the US Open in a thrilling final against world number one Victoria Azarenka.
The fourth seed dominated the first set but Azarenka fought back superbly and served for the match in the decider only for Williams to reel off four games in a row to win 6-2 2-6 7-5.
It was a fourth Flushing Meadows crown for the 30-year-old American, who looked amazed as she lay flat on her back on Arthur Ashe Stadium before going to celebrate with her friends and family.
"I honestly can't believe I won," she said at the post-match ceremony. "I really was preparing my runners-up speech. She's playing so great. I'm really shocked and so happy to have gotten so far."
Azarenka was gracious in defeat, and said she would leave Flushing Meadows with no regrets.
"At the moment it's tough, but Serena deserved to win," the 23-year-old said. "She showed how true a champion she is. I'm just honoured standing with such a champion here. I definitely gave it all today and stepping out of this court today I will have no regrets."
For Williams it was also redemption of a kind after last year's final defeat by Sam Stosur, which was marred by an altercation between Williams and umpire Eva Asderaki over a hindrance call, for which she was later fined.
Williams is only the world number four but she was a clear favourite going into the match after a stellar summer that included her fifth Wimbledon title and two Olympic gold medals.
Not since Steffi Graf beat Monica Seles in 1995 had there been a three-set women's final, and this one was very much in the balance to the end.
Azarenka had not lost a three-set match all year and she looked a lot more solid than Williams, whose unforced error count was well into the 30s. But the American is also a natural-born battler and she broke back in a lengthy fourth game with two huge forehands, letting out a scream that was as long as it was loud.