World No. 1 Serena Williams completed one title defense Sunday before heading to New York City for a bid to do the same at the U.S. Open.
Winning a battle of high-level play in the second-set tiebreaker, Williams defeated third-seeded Simona Halep 6-3, 7-6(5) to become the first woman to defend in Cincinnati since it became a WTA event in 2004.
Like previous matches this week, Williams fell behind early but rallied decisively. Down 3-1, she won five consecutive games to take the opening set.
Williams reeled off three consecutive points midway through the second-set tiebreaker to go ahead 5-3. She held the lead the rest of the way and clinched the match four points later when Halep’s drop shot attempt did not clear the net.
During the final, it was announced that the Western and Southern Open set an attendance record of 199,217 during the entire event.
With Serena Williams and Roger Federer winning, it was the first time both the men and women champions have successfully defended their titles since Bobby Riggs and Virginia Hollinger in 1937 and 1938 … Williams has appeared in three consecutive finals … Williams is 5-0 in finals this year; Halep is 3-2 … Williams is 25-1 on hardcourt this year; Halep is 32-5.