An overwhelmed Serena Williams could not hold back her emotions after winning the WTA Auckland Classic – her first title in three years – on Sunday. The 38-year-old Williams, who beat fellow American 6-3, 6-4 revealed that she will donate her $43,000 USD winner’s cheque to the Australian bushfire victims.

Playing in her fourth decade on the WTA Tour, the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion lost the Wimbledon and US Open finals in 2018 and 2019 and retired from the 2019 Rogers Cup final.

“I’ve been playing in Australia for over 20 years and it’s been really hard for me to watch all the news and everything that has been happening in Australia with all the fire and… animals and people that have lost their homes,” she said at the on-court interview.

“I decided at the beginning of the tournament… I’d donate all my prize money for a great cause.”

In addition to donating her winner’s cheque, Williams has also signed the dress she wore in the first round in Auckland and put it up for auction to raise funds for the Australian appeal.

“I have been playing for so long and been through so much and I’m happy to be doing something I love. I feel fortunate and blessed to be out here and to be healthy and to play,” Williams said.

Williams was also in the doubles final with Caroline Wozniacki, but the two were beaten 6-4, 6-4 by Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend in the doubles final.

Meanwhile, world number one singles Ashleigh Barty, who is donating all her prize money to the bushfire appeal, and her doubles partner Kiki Bertens lost their final against Barbora Strycova and Hsieh Su-wei 3-6, 7-6 (9-7) 10-8.