ZHUHAI (China) • Former world No. 1 Venus Williams scraped past Karolina Pliskova to win the WTA Elite Trophy yesterday, claiming her third tennis title of the season as she secured a return to the top 10 for the first time in four years.
The top seed was forced to dig deep into her vast reservoir of experience to stave off Pliskova's challenge and emerge a 7-5, 7-6 (8-6) winner against the gutsy Czech.
"Seven weeks here in Asia and now I feel like it's my home," the American told the WTA website .
"I'm so excited to win the first trophy in Zhuhai.
"All the players felt so welcome here and we appreciated all of the enthusiasm.
"To see every seat filled for every match, that's all the players and tournament could hope for."
The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion started well and raced to a 4-1 lead in the first set before 23-year-old Pliskova won the next three games to level scores but the American would not be denied.
The roles were reversed in the second set, with Williams trailing 2-4 and by the same score in the tie-break.
However, she managed to raise her game and unleashed back-to-back forehand winners to seal the contest.
For the first time since 2008, Williams won three titles - in Auckland, Wuhan and Zhuhai - in a season and the 700 points she earned yesterday helped the 35-year-old jump four places to world No. 7 in the new WTA rankings.
The American is the oldest player to finish the year in the top 10 since a 38-year-old Martina Navratilova ended the season as No. 8 in 1994.