NEW YORK - Serena Williams repeated as US Open women's champion by holding off a battling Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-5 6-7(6) 6-1 in a windblown final at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday.
Williams bounded in a series of joyous jumping jack leaps after Azarenka's backhand sailed long on the second match point of a thrilling, two-hour 45-minute final that earned her a fifth US Open singles title that took her total to 17 grand slams.
The big-hitting American, who turns 32 later this month, became the oldest US Open women's winner since tennis turned professional 45 years ago, eclipsing Australian Margaret Court, who was 31 years and 55 days when she won the title in 1973.
The triumph moved Williams to within one grand slam singles crown of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for a tie for fourth place on the all-time list behind Court (24), Steffi Graf (22) and Helen Wills Moody (19).
It had looked like it was going to be plain sailing for Williams after she won a difficult first set, boosted by a late break in the 11th game for a 6-5 lead and then served out a love game before racing to a 4-1 second-set lead.
Williams, who earlier looked confounded by the gusty wind that affected service tosses and the direction of bounces off groundstrokes and was muttering to herself between points, finally settled into a rhythm in the second set.
"The wind was unbelievable," said the champion. "And it just got worse and worse and it never let up. But at this point you have to play under any circumstance."
She claimed the 4-1 lead after Azarenka double-faulted three times in the fifth and her US Open repeat looked a certainty as she begun to find her range on her imposing service game that saw her serve broken only twice in six previous matches.
But Azarenka was not ready to capitulate.