Just like so much of her life, the path included a sharp twist no one saw coming.
Wie started the final round tied with Amy Yang, took the lead when Yang made double bogey on No. 2 and didn't let anyone catch her the rest of the day.
In trouble on the tough fourth hole, she got up-and-down from 135 yards with an 8-iron into 3 feet. Right when Lewis was making a big run, Wie answered by ripping a drive on the shortened par-5 10th and hitting a cut 8-iron into 10 feet for eagle and a four-shot lead.
She had not made a bogey since the first hole -- and then it all nearly unraveled.
From a fairway bunker on the 16th, holding a three-shot lead, she stayed aggressive and hit hybrid from the sand.
"I was kind of a dummy for not laying up when I was in that situation," she said. "And it kind of bit me in the butt. But I laughed it off. Stuff like that does happen."
The only time panic began to set in was when no one could find her ball. It finally was located after a three-minute search, buried in a wiregrass bush. She quickly and wisely took a penalty drop behind her in the fairway to limit the damage, chipped to about 35 feet and ran that putt some 5 feet by the hole.
Miss it and she would be tied.
Bent over in that table-top putting stance, she poured it in to avoid her first three-putt of the week. Smiling as she left the green, she hit 8-iron to 25 feet and delivered a putt that will surely rank among the highlights in U.S. Women's Open history.
Wie finished at 2-under 278, the only player to beat par in the second week of championship golf at Pinehurst. Martin Kaymer won by eight shots last week at 9-under 271, the second-lowest score in U.S. Open history.
Juli Inkster, playing her 35th and final U.S. Women's Open, closed with a 75 to tie for 15th. She received the loudest ovation of the week walking up the 18th, until Wie arrived as the winner.
What a journey.
"I think that without your downs, without the hardship, I don't think you appreciate the ups and much as you do," Wie said, the gleaming trophy at her side. "I think the fact that I struggled so much, the fact that I kind of went through a hard period of my life, the fact that this trophy is right next to me, it means so much more to me than it ever would have when I was 15.
"I feel extremely lucky."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.