Serena Williams showed incredible resolve to outlast Victoria Azarenka and secure her fourth US Open title.
The 30-year-old lifted her 15th Grand Slam singles crown – and fourth in New York – with a 6-2 2-6 7-5 win in 138 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
World number one Azarenka served for the match, but Williams broke in a run of four ruthless games to triumph.
She became the first player aged over 30 to win the US Open womenâ€™s singles since Martina Navratilova in 1987.
â€œI honestly canâ€™t believe I won,â€ said the American. â€œI was preparing my runner-up speech because she was playing so great.â€
Azarenka wept into a towel at the end as her dream of becoming the first Belarusian to win the US Open ended in agonising fashion.
â€œItâ€™s tough but Serena deserves to win,â€ said the 23-year-old. â€œShe showed what a true champion she is.
â€œIâ€™m honoured to stand with such a true champion here. I definitely gave it my all today, stepping out of this court I have no regrets.â€
It was a dramatic end to an captivating encounter that suggests Williams remains the leading player in womenâ€™s tennis and further cements her place among the legends of the sport.
The win comes 13 years after her first US Open title in 1999 – the biggest span of success by a female singles player in the Open era.
She is the fifth woman in the Open era to triumph four times in New York and now has a 15-4 win-loss record from her 19 major finals.
The result looked a formality as Williams blasted her way through the 34-minute first set with two breaks of serve.
An inch-perfect lob in game two drew applause from Azarenka, while a series of brutal winners in game eight epitomised her dominance.
Having come from a set down to beat Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals, Azarenka knew she was capable of mounting a fightback.
Hope arrived with a Williams double-fault early in set two, and the American was further distracted by a foot fault in game three.
Azarenka had captured the momentum and she struck again for a 4-1 lead before comfortably levelling the contest.
It was the first US Open womenâ€™s final to go the distance since 1995 and breaks were exchanged in a nervy start to the decider. â€”BBC