IT'S SLAM NO.17 FOR SERENA.
The American produced some stunning tennis and showed plenty of character as her Belarussian opponent pushed her all the way
But after being forced into a deciding set, Williams powered through, breaking her opponent's serve twice on the way to a 7-5 7-6 6-1 win in two hours and 45 minutes.
The defeat was hard on Azarenka who won a second-set tiebreaker 8-6 to send the final to a third set.
After losing the first set 7-5 on a windblown Arthur Ashe Stadium court, Azarenka found herself down 4-1 with defending champion Williams serving.
The determined 24-year-old (right), who had double-faulted three times in losing her serve in the fifth game, broke the big-serving American three times to take the set to a tiebreaker.
Williams, who twice served to win the match, double-faulted on the last point of the game that made it 6-6 and forced the tiebreaker.
The World No.1 rushed out to a 3-1 lead in the decider, but the second-seeded Azarenka won five of the next six points to take charge at 6-4 before taking the tiebreaker when Williams belted a backhand too long.
After taking the second set, the momentum appeared to be with Azarenka but the veteran attacked hard and her rival wilted in the onslaught.
FULL STRETCH Williams was pushed hard