Miami: Proving there is no place like home, world No. 1 Serena Williams swept past China’s Li Na 7-5, 6-1 in the final of the Sony Open on Saturday, collecting a record seventh win on the Miami hardcourts.
Serena, who lives an hour’s drive from the Tennis Center at Crandon Park and considers the tournament her home event, treated the second-ranked Li like an unwelcome guest, needing just two hours on a steamy centre court to collect her 59th career title, the $787,000 winner’s purse pushing her career earnings over $55 million.
In 14 appearances at the Miami event Williams has driven back to her Palm Beach Gardens home with the trophy half the time, her seven titles two better than the five each she has won at Australian, US Open and Wimbledon Grand Slams.
After watching Li’s forehand return slam into the net to end the contest, a delighted Serena danced around the court, raising seven fingers in the air signalling each of her Miami titles.
“I was actually super excited at the end, because I remember sitting here last year trying to get to six, obviously I wanted seven but I don’t want to put the pressure on myself to get to seven,” said Serena, who had shared the tournament record of six titles with Andre Agassi. “I wanted to have the most titles here.
“I guess that I’ve grown up coming to this tournament as a kid, watching so many players and to be one of those players now is really, really awesome for me.”
While Serena was critical of her performance earlier in the tournament, calling it unprofessional, the 32-year-old American has been at her best against top players, winning 15 straight over top 10 opponents.
“I feel like when you’re going up against the top players, for me, I have to be ready because they are the best in the world, the whole planet,” said Serena. “So you have to be ready to play.”
A determined Li seized the early initiative, breaking the American to open the contest and again in the seventh game to storm to a 5-2 lead. But with Li serving for the set, Williams made her stand, overwhelming her Chinese opponent by sweeping 11 of the next 12 games.
Meanwhile, Martina Hingis made a winning return when the Swiss player and German partner Sabine Lisicki claimed the doubles title on Sunday with a 4-6, 6-4 (10-5) over Russian duo Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.
The title was Hingis’s first since winning the doubles in Doha in 2007.