NEW YORK (AFP) - World number one Serena Williams won her sixth US Open title on Sunday, Sept 7, 2014, overpowering Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-3 to take her Grand Slam tally to 18.
The world number one, shut out in the first three majors of the year, at last joined Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on 18 - trailing only the 22 of Steffi Graf on the Open era list and six behind the all-time record held by Margaret Court.
"It is a pleasure for me to win my first Grand Slam (of 2014) here and number 18," Williams said, her voice breaking. "I couldn't ask to do it at a better place."
"Congratulations to Caroline, she knows the struggles I have had. She's a real nice person, a great friend. We text each other all the time. You will win a Grand Slam title soon."
Williams lifted the trophy at Flushing Meadows for the third straight year, joining Evert as the only woman in the Open era to win three titles in a row and matching Evert's six US Open triumphs.
Former world number one Wozniacki, meanwhile remained unable to fill the gaping hole in her resume.
The Dane was just 19 when she lost to Kim Clijsters in the 2009 US Open final, and she hadn't returned to a Grand Slam title match until Sunday.
"Serena, you deserve it. You played better than me today and you deserve to be the champion," Wozniacki said.
"You are an inspiration on the court and off it. You're an unbelievable champion and a great friend. The drinks are on you tonight."
With so much on the line for each woman, the first set was a tense affair with few fireworks.
After saving a break point in the first game with an ace, Williams made Wozniacki pay for a tight first service game, in which the Dane double faulted twice.
Williams seized the break and a 2-0 lead with a pair of stinging service returns.
It signalled a run of five breaks of serve that ended with Williams holding for a 5-2 lead, heaping the pressure on Wozniacki to hold for the first time.
She did, fending off one break point to force Williams to serve it out.
With a set in hand, Williams was moving more freely. Even luck wasn't going Wozniacki's way, as a net cord bounce in Williams' favour ended a 20-shot rally to give the American a break chance in the first game of the second - which she promptly converted.
Wozniacki's vaunted defensive skills were on full display as she doggedly ran down balls, but she couldn't match Williams' power and ability to conjure winners from all areas of the court.
Williams finished with 29 winners to Wozniacki's four and she finished off her good friend after one hour and 15 minutes with a break of serve in the final game, dropping to her back and covering her face with her hands after Wozniacki fired a backhand long.