| NEW YORK, Sept 9
NEW YORK, Sept 9 Three months ago, Serena
Williams was at her lowest after going out in the first round of
the French Open, her earliest exit at a grand slam. She was
miserable after that defeat, but also at her most dangerous.
On Sunday, the 30-year-old American capped off a 'golden
summer' by winning a fourth U.S. Open crown for her 15th slam
singles title. Her victory in the last grand slam of the season
came after she won Wimbledon and singles and doubles gold medals
at the 2012 London Games.
"Losses really motivate me," Williams said after a champagne
toast at her news conference following her 6-2 2-6 7-5 victory
over world number one Victoria Azarenka in a thrilling U.S. Open
"I was miserable after that loss in Paris. I have never been
so miserable after a loss," she said of her defeat to
111th-ranked Virginie Razzano of France.
"I don't know if that helped me, the loss in Paris. I like
to believe it did, because I just wanted to do more. I wanted to
do more and more and more."
After beating Australian Open champion Azarenka on Sunday,
Williams collapsed on her back and covered her face in shock.
"This is the most best feeling I think in tennis," she said.
Williams has had to overcome more than defeats.
She battled a slew of injuries over the last few years,
including a severe foot injury and life-threatening blood clots
in her lungs, and also had behaviour issues that plagued her at
the U.S. Open.
The power-hitting Williams has managed to come through it
all in brilliant fashion, showing she still has the skill, will
and enthusiasm to rule the women's game.
"I was in the hospital last year," said Williams, who
checked herself in after having trouble breathing and was found
to have the blood clots.
"So it means a lot. To win Wimbledon is always so special,
but coming to your home country and winning this one is just
awesome. To win two in a year, it's great."
Williams said she tried to think on the positive side, but
has perspective about the challenges that must be faced.
"I don't think about the downs too much. I hope I never
think about them as my life continues," she said. "But 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. So I feel really awesome that I have been able
to do that.
"You see great people like Muhammad Ali, for instance, who
is a complete person I have always looked up to in sports. He
went to jail for so long and he came back as a champion again.
"So I just really think that really defines a champion."
Williams's previous two trips to the U.S. Open ended with
matches in which she badly lost control of her temper.
She threatened an official on court for calling a foot fault
on her in the 2009 semi-final against Kim Clijsters, and
insulted the chair umpire when she was punished for screaming
during a point against Sam Stosur in last year's final.
There was a moment in Sunday's final against Azarenka that
tested Williams's self-control after she was assessed a foot
fault in the second set and glared at the chair umpire.
"This is the first year in a long time I haven't lost my
cool," she said, drawing a laugh from reporters. "I think
everyone thought about last year. (But) I was just thinking, OK,
which foot was it? So I would know not to do that again."
Her extraordinary 2012 summer of success is extra special
considering she began her run as a grand slam champion 13 years
ago when she won the U.S. Open crown as a 17-year-old.
Asked to compare herself to the teenager who the 1999 title,
Williams said: "We both have so much to look forward to. I feel
like even though I'm 30, I feel so young and I've never felt as
fit and more excited and more hungry.
"Even with this win, (I'm) so excited still to play the next
grand slam and see what I can do. Just to do more, I love that
"I will think about my legacy when I'm done."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)