Serena Williams has her first WTA title as a mother, overpowering Jessica Pegula in the ASB Classic final with a performance showing her readiness to contend again at the Australian Open.
Williams responded to early pressure, before blowing away her compatriot 6-3 6-4 in Auckland, winning in 1h 35m.
The 38-year-old was broken in the first game of the match and was a frustrated figure, as she figured out the plucky world No.82, who reached the final with the semi-final scalp of Caroline Wozniacki.
Showing her trademark fortitude, Williams bludgeoned her way to the first set in 49 minutes, rattling off the final five games with a succession of winners and fist pumps.
Williams took an early break in the second set, with the 25-year-old Pegula clinging to tight holds of serve that kept her alive.
Pegula dug deep to save three championship points, before Williams duly served out for the tournament.
While the 73rd title of Williams' career is unlikely to feature in any career highlights, it is undoubtedly significant.
In defeating Pegula, Williams put to bed a five-final losing streak since her last title - the 2017 Australian Open.
That run includes four defeats in Grand Slam finals - twice at Wimbledon and the US Open.
The New Zealand title also means, for the first time, the 23-time major winner will arrive at Melbourne Park with a trophy already in the bag for the year.
Given her hardcourt form and record at Melbourne Park, where she is a seven-time champion, Williams might never get a better opportunity to win her coveted 24th Slam than this month.
Another major for the legendary American would match the record held by Australian great Margaret Court.
Williams' successful week in Auckland also included a 43-minute beatdown of world No.25 Amanda Anisimova in the semi-finals, and defeats of top-100 players Laura Siegemund, Christina McHale and Camila Giorgi.
Only McHale managed to take a set off Williams in her finals run.
But Wozniacki could manage a fairytale Auckland finish, after she and Williams lost the doubles final in straight sets, 6-4 6-4, against Taylor Townsend and Asia Muhammad.
Join us at noon Monday for live updates of the ASB Classic men's tournament