Williams will replace Azarenka on top of the WTA rankings when the new list is released on Monday but the American's hopes of capping off a memorable week with a 48th singles title were dashed by an opponent who extended her 2013 record to 12-0.
Williams's game sparkled as brightly as the diamond ring on her playing right hand during the second set but it was Azarenka who was running rings around her in the third.
The Belarussian leapt to a 3-0 lead and never relinquished that advantage, polishing off Williams with an unreturnable serve in just under 2-1/2 hours.
In case anyone in the crowd had forgotten that she had entered the tournament as top dog in the world rankings, she celebrated by holding both arms aloft and wagging her index fingers towards the night sky of Doha.
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