Serena Williams is the world's best women's tennis player.
That statement was likely never in doubt over these past few months, but Williams' win over Victoria Azarenka to capture the 2012 U.S. Open title on Sunday night had to quiet even her biggest critics.
It's not because she dominated the current World No. 1 either. It's because she showed up, played far from how she's capable of playing and yet still managed to top Azarenka, who appeared to be on top of her game.
Williams started off in classic Williams fashion.
In the first set, which lasted just 38 minutes, the American absolutely destroyed Azarenka. She won 30 of the 48 total points, broke the Belarus international twice, hit a ridiculous 16 winners to Azarenka's two and dominated her own serve en route to a 6-2 win.
Is Serena Williams the best tennis player of all time?
It appeared as those Williams would roll through Azarenka just like she had against everyone else in the tournament: In straight sets.
But Azarenka woke up in the second set, capitalizing off of 15 unforced errors made by Williams to take the 6-2 set win and tie the match up.
That's where things got good.
After a couple breaks from Azarenka and one from Serena, the youngster had the chance to serve for the championship up 5-4, but Williams broke her.
After the veteran held her own serve, Azarenka was forced to serve once again with the championship on the line. Only this time, she had to stay alive.
Williams got yet another break and secured her third major singles title of the summer (Wimbledon, Olympics, U.S. Open).
The match was perfectly fitting for how these women play the game.
Azarenka had zero aces. Williams had 13. Azarenka had just 13 winners, but only 28 unforced errors. Williams had 44 and 45.
Azarenka sat back, played defense and frustrated Williams, while the American used her sheer force and unbelievable power to win the match, despite making too many mistakes.
In the end, though, it was crystal clear that these two ladies are the ones to beat in women's tennis. Azarenka, who took home the Australian Open title to start the year, has plenty more majors coming her way.
She just might have to wait for Serena to retire first.