"It feels good. It's been a long time", Williams said.
@serenawilliams on another big win. She is a great player and an even greater person.
In a speech after her victory tweeted by the Women's Tennis Association, Williams described the effects of the devastating fires that are scorching a country in which she has been active for so long.
Serena Williams ended a three-year title drought in Auckland. Since returning to the sport after giving birth, she's made five tournament finals and lost every single one.
She did not play a warm-up tournament ahead of last year's Australian Open and fell in the quarter-finals, and her appearance in Auckland was created to get more matches under her belt before she headed to Melbourne.
Pegula has been on a steady climb up the rankings since overcoming a serious knee injury two years ago.
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However, throughout the Auckland Classic, and particularly during the finals, Williams was the veritable picture of calm and poise; even her trademark energetic entry onto the court in her final against American Jessica Pegula was a quiet one - Williams surveying the stands and looking out upon the crowds.
Williams smashed two aces and dropped a serve against Pegula.
Williams eventually achieved a break of her own to level at 3-3, finding the power and precision that had deserted her until then.
Pegula took the lead 2-0 before Williams rebounded and scored 3-3 in the first set.
Williams' next shot at a Grand Slam tournament will come this week in the Australian Open. That, or the fact that she has made so many Grand Slam finals since coming back from having her daughter, has meant that it has been hard to fathom that she has not won a title in three years.
The pair progressed easily to the final but were overwhelmed on Sunday by Townsend and Muhammad who were a more practiced and efficient combination. The young Americans broke in the third and seventh games of the first set and claimed the only break of the second set in the third game.