Serena feared the worst
Azarenka 'hurt deeply' by loss
Last Updated: September 10, 2012 10:27am
Serena Williams: Celebrates her 15th grand slam title
Serena Williams admitted that she had been "preparing her runners-up speech" after world number one Victoria Azarenka almost beat her to the US Open title.
But the American, who suffered a life-threatening blood clot in the lung as a result of a foot injury earlier last year, claimed that she doesn't "think about the downs too much" and hopes she never will after clinching her 15th grand slam crown.
She said: "I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall. I have fallen several times.
"Each time I just get up and I dust myself off and I pray and I'm able to do better or I'm able to get back to the level I want to be on.
"You see great people like Muhammad Ali, who is a complete person I have always looked up to in sport. I just really think that defines a champion."
The 30-year-old had been the hot favourite to beat the Belarusian after her successes at Wimbledon and the Olympics but was pushed all the way, fighting back from 5-3 down in the third set to win 6-2 2-6 7-5.
The match was taken to three sets, the first for women's tennis in New York for 17 years, and it was one of the best grand slam finals for a long time.
Williams blasted her way through the first set in little more than thirty minutes but made errors at the start of the second which gave Azarenka an opportunity to fight back.
But the world number one failed to win a final game after leading 5-3 in the third set as Williams produced her trademark serve, clinching a fourth straight game to claim another slam title.
Azarenka sobbed into her towel at the end of the match but was content that she had given absolutely everything.
"I think it was a great match," she said. "Being so close it hurts deeply. But, at this moment, I have no regrets. I felt like I gave it my all. Could it have gone my way? It was close but not for me.
"She is the greatest player of all time. She took the game to the next level. Having a few of the players like that on the women's tour right now is something priceless, something that you cannot take away."