Skip to main content

Serena Williams rebuffs Li Na's challenge to finish 2013 in style

updated 3:16 PM EDT, Sun October 27, 2013
A relieved Serena Williams lifts the WTA Championship title aloft after beating Li Na in a three set final.
A relieved Serena Williams lifts the WTA Championship title aloft after beating Li Na in a three set final.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Serena Williams wins 2013 WTA Championships
  • Fights off strong challenge from China's Li Na
  • Top seed Williams wins 2-6 6-3 6-0
  • 78th career title for American superstar

(CNN) -- An exhausted but elated Serena Williams was left celebrating her 11th title of the season to round off 2013 by claiming the WTA Championships in Istanbul Sunday.

The World No.1 dug deep from a set down and three all in the second against China's Li Na to reel off nine straight games to clinch the prestigious title, 2-6 6-3 6-0.

"I can't believe I won. I was so tired. Honestly, did I really win? Because she played so well," Williams said in her post match interview.

"I'm just overjoyed, to be honest," Williams added. "It's really awesome. It's such a special moment. To finish the year No.1 in the world and win this title after 40 years of the WTA, it means even more."

Serena Williams' toughest challenge
Serena Williams talks post U.S. Open
Williams wins 2nd French Open title
Serena Williams' rise to greatness

Williams had to grind out a three set semifinal win over Jelena Jankovic Saturday and fell a set down to her fourth seeded Chinese opponent in the final as the tiredness set in.

Read: Can Serena become the greatest of alltime?

Williams pulled 3-0 ahead in the second set, only for Li to win three straight games to level.

A lesser player might have crumbled, but the 17-time grand slam champion took her game to another level and finished it off with her 30th winner of the match.

Victory took her prize money for the season to a record $12,385, 572 and at 32 years and one month she is the oldest winner at the end of season championship.

It was her 78th WTA career title and she shows no sign of letting up in her pursuit of records with the first grand slam of the 2014 season in Australia next January firmly in her sights

Li has also finished the season strongly, the first Chinese player to make the WTA Championships final.

She is set to move to her hightest ranking of World No.3 in the new list and showed enough in the opening set and a half to give her hope of further grand slam success to add to her 2011 French Open triumph.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:20 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
At the 2009 Australian Open, French men's tennis was the talk of the town.
updated 2:00 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 14: Rafael Nadal of Spain sails a boat during day two of the ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Tennis at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 14, 2014 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal may be most at home on a clay tennis court, but he has always found comfort on the sea.
updated 7:07 AM EDT, Fri March 21, 2014
Tennis star Venus Williams reveals how she is beating the autoimmune disease that derailed her career.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Wed March 5, 2014
After two decades dedicated to the game, Amelie Mauresmo wants a second life -- one away from tennis.
Rafael Nadal of Spain wipes his face after losing his men's final match against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland during day 14 of the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.
Almost five years to the day after reducing Roger Federer to tears at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal shed a few in his own loser's speech.
updated 9:48 PM EST, Sat February 1, 2014
Li Na outperformed Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open, but can she now surpass the Russian as the world's richest female athlete?
Roger Federer may have lost again to Rafael Nadal in the business end of a grand slam, but he can take some heart from yet another record says CNN's Will Edmonds.
updated 8:58 AM EST, Tue January 21, 2014
Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg, Novak Djokovic and Boris Becker -- today's tennis stars are teaming up with past legends of the game.
updated 1:59 PM EST, Wed January 15, 2014
Can't stand the heat of the first tennis grand slam of 2014? Then you clearly haven't been doing enough Bikram yoga.
After nearly a decade without any real change at the top of men's tennis, CNN's Will Edmonds looks at next generation of future stars.
updated 8:14 AM EST, Thu January 9, 2014
Ana Ivanovic is still seeking to rediscover the form that took her to the top of the rankings -- but she has found a new lease of life.
updated 6:42 AM EST, Mon January 6, 2014
As a teen sensation, Bernard Tomic had the tennis world at his feet -- but he's in danger of blowing it, says Australian great Pat Rafter.
ADVERTISEMENT