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Serena Williams wins first title in 3 years — and donates prize money to Australia wildfire relief

Williams’ first win since daughter’s birth

This year is looking up for tennis superstar Serena Williams — the champ won her first title in three years at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, on Sunday. Instead of keeping the prize money, she donated the $43,000 to help those affected by the blazing fires in neighboring Australia, reports The Associated Press.

The pro beat fellow American Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-4 during the singles final, the Women's Tennis Association tweeted, along with footage of the big win. Williams was noticeably thrilled when she realized she was victorious — throwing her hands in the air and screaming at the sky.

"Oh, it feels good!" Williams said after the win, according to the AP. "It's been a long time. I think you could see the relief on my face."

The title also marks the 38-year-old's first since giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia in September 2017. She won the Australian Open in January of that year, while pregnant with Alexis. After the win Sunday, Alexis joined her beaming mom on the tennis court in a sweet moment.

Serena Williams
Serena Williams holds her daughter Alexis Olympia with the trophy following the Women's Final on day seven of the 2020 Women's ASB Classic at ASB Tennis Centre on January 12, 2020, in Auckland, New Zealand. Getty

While speaking to "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King in April 2017, she explained that her time on the tennis court was far from over now that she was becoming a mom. "This is just a new part of my life and my baby's gonna be in the stands hopefully cheering for me and not crying too much," Williams said.

Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, more than anyone else in the history of professional tennis. More than half of those titles came in the last decade as she entered her 30s — when players typically begin to slow down.

Williams is the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam singles trophy in the professional era. Off the court, she has championed women's rights, and given a voice to health care inequality plaguing black women in the U.S.

Worldwide effort to save Australia's animals amid devastating wildfires

Williams' donation will help victims of the Australian wildfires and follows many other tennis champs, including Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova, who have pledged money to the relief efforts.

The star has also recently agreed to participate in a tennis event — called the Australian Open Rally for Relief — which is set to raise funds for the fire efforts, reports CBS Sports. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, among other tennis greats, have also agreed to participate.

The event is scheduled to take place January 15 — just days before the Australian Open kicks off January 20.

The Australian deadly bushfire crisis has been devastating many parts of the continent. The fires have killed at least 25 people, as well as an estimated 1 billion animals.

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