ISTANBUL (AP) — Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday to win the WTA Championships for the third time and finish the year with another title, although not the top ranking.
"Now that I can be honest, I really wanted to win," Williams said. "I wanted it so bad but I didn't want to say it ... It was really important for me to end the year with this title in particular."
Williams ended the season with a 59-4 record. Since her first-round loss at the French Open, the American is 31-1, winning Wimbledon, the Olympic gold medal and the U.S. Open.
But because she did not play as well at the start of the year following injuries and illness, Williams will have to settle for the No. 3 ranking despite dominating the tour in the past few months. She finishes behind No. 2 Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, who ends the year as the top-ranked player in the world despite losing to Sharapova in the semifinals.
"I had such a good year, it was important to end on a good note. It was good for my sanity to win," Williams said. "I really wanted it although I didn't need it."
In 2001 and '09 Williams also won the elite, year-end tournament that brings together the top eight players in the world.
Williams raced forward to reach a drop shot and put away a passing-shot winner but the seventh game still went to Sharapova after five deuces. But the American was pumping her fist and there was no holding her back as Williams closed out the set with an ace — one of 11 she had in the match.