Serena ends 3-yr title drought

Serena Williams ended a three-year title drought and donated her winner's cheque to victims of the Australian bushfires in an emotional WTA Auckland Classic final on Sunday.

Serena raised expectations for Australian Open, where she can equal Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam titles, with her 6-3, 6-4 victory -- her first WTA trophy since she won in Melbourne in 2017.

But the 38-year-old tempered celebrations as she donated her US 43,000 winners cheque to the Australian bushfire relief fund and described how the tragedy had affected her deeply.

"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.

"I decided at the beginning of the tournament... I'd donate all my prize money for a great cause."

It is Williams' first title since 2017 -- and her first as a mother -- since she won the Australian Open while pregnant.