The combined ATP and WTA two-week event in March is tennis’s largest event outside the Grand Slams and has twice been voted the WTA’S Premier event of the year. Offering $4,720,380 in prize money and played at a 30-acre facility at Crandon Park in Key Biscane since 1987, its 128-player draw features all of the WTA’s top players.
In 2014, current World No. 1 and defending champion Williams, headlined the tournament, playing her first event on American soil that season. The 32-year-old made history when she triumphed over Li Na in straight sets 7-5, 6-1 to win her seventh title in Miami.
The final lasted an hour and 59 minutes, but it was the lower ranked Li who got off to a flying start. The reigning Australian Open champion marched ahead to a 5-2 lead in the first set, before top ranked Williams clawed her way back to steal the first set 7-5, saving a set point along the way.
Serena Williams (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
The dominant American continued her momentum into the second set, proving no match for Li, who despite putting up a valiant fight, only managed to win one of the last twelve games of the match, ultimately succumbing 7-5, 6-1.
With the victory, Williams became only the fourth player to win the same WTA even seven or more times, joining Steffi Graf, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.
"It was a really important victory, especially playing Li Na, who has been playing so well," Williams said.
The World No. 1 considers the Sony Open - held in Key Biscayne, not far from where she has her home - to be her home tournament and said that playing in Miami is like playing in her backyard. Because of this, Williams typically receives vociferous report from the thousands of fans who show up to see her battle for record numbers of titles in Miami.
"[Li] started out so well - I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I just need to hang in here.' Then I heard some fans trying to pull me through - if it hadn't been for you guys I wouldn't be standing here right now," Williams said.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion was also asked how she managed to turn the match around from 5-2 down in the first set.
"Really, at that moment, I felt like I had nothing to lose and I was able to relax. And whenever I relax, I enjoy myself."
Li Na (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
It was William’s first title since winning Brisbane during the first week of the season, and her 59th career title overall. On the other hand, Li was looking for her tenth WTA title, but fell just short in her efforts.
"I have to say well done to Serena - you had a very good two weeks here," Li said.
"Keeping healthy is the most important thing for me, and just trying to do the best I can. Of course I want to thank my team as well!" she continued.
The Chinese who has become renowned for her sense of humour about her husband, was asked if she would like to thank him: "No, coach first! Husband is later, who cares," she said.
"First my coach, and then my physio. Thanks a lot to both of them."
Tournament Director Adam Barrett is hopeful that both Li and Williams will return to Crandon Park for the 2015 edition of the Sony Open, as Williams bids for another record breaking eighth title.
The Sony Open tennis will take place between 23 March – 6 April 2015.
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