ISTANBUL- A weary Serena Williams has created a stunning record for women's tennis prizemoney in a year after successfully defending her WTA Championships title to finish the season with a 78th victory and 11th title.
The 32-year-old world No.1 beat Li Na 2-6 6-3 6-0 in the final in Istanbul on Sunday, ending 2013 with $US12,385,572 ($F22.66 million) in prizemoney — obliterating the previous mark of $US7,923,920 ($F14.5 million) set by Victoria Azarenka last year.
It's also the third-highest single season prize money total in tennis history, men's and women's — only Novak Djokovic's 2011 and 2012 totals are higher.
Williams had admitted to feeling physically exhausted before, during and after a fraught semi-final with Jelena Jankovic on Saturday and — at 3-3 in the second set on Sunday — she looked in danger of a surprise defeat.
"But I had to keep going, I hung in there, and it's amazing to win this," said Williams.
"I've just had a really long year, and I'm just really excited, honestly.
"I can't believe I won. I was so tired. Honestly, did I really win? Because she played so well."
It's been a year to remember for Williams, whose victory made her the fourth player ever to win four or more titles at the event and the oldest champion.
She is also the first player to win 11 WTA titles in a season since 1997 when Martina Hingis won 12.
The triumph may persuade Williams that adding to her 17 grand slam titles during 2014 is certainly possible, and that winning another five, to overhaul Steffi Graf, might eventually come within reach too.