Wellington: An emotional Serena Williams donated her US$43,000 winner's cheque from the WTA Auckland Classic to the Australian bushfire relief fund on Sunday.
It was the 38-year-old Williams's first tournament victory in three years, but she tempered celebrations by saying her thoughts were with Australians.
"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."
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.
The title triumph was Williams' first title since 2017 -- and her first as a mother -- since she won the Australian Open while pregnant. Her 73 WTA titles now stretch across four decades, after she won her first in 1999.
(With inputs from AFP)