Serena Williams celebrates after defeating Victoria Azarenka for the first title of the 2014 season, at the Brisbane International.
© Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
By E.J. Crawford, USTA.com
Serena Williams posted one of the finest years ever for a women’s professional tennis player in 2013. She didn’t miss a beat in the opening event of 2014, sweeping past her two main rivals to capture the Brisbane International title in Brisbane, Australia.
Williams, the top seed and No. 1 player in the world, defeated No. 3 seed Maria Sharapova, 6-2, 7-6, in the semifinals and two-time defending Australian Open champion and No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka, 6-4, 7-5, in a hard-fought final.
“I feel like I [was] pushed into the deep end straight away,” Williams told the WTA. “I think it's a good thing. In Melbourne, if I have to face Maria again I'll know a little bit more what to expect, and same thing with Victoria.”
The victory was Williams’ 58th tour title of her career – fourth on the all-time list behind Martina Navratilova (167), Chris Evert (157) and Steffi Graf (107) – and comes after a 2013 in which she won 11 crowns, including the French Open and the US Open. The 11 titles were the most on tour since Martina Hingis won 12 in 1997.
Williams was named the ITF World Champion for 2013 and also won the AP Female Athlete of the Year Award. She is a five-time Australian Open champion, having won the tournament in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010.