Eleven years to the day Serena Williams won her first French Open title, she won her second–and completed her second career grand slam–by defeating Maria Sharapova in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, in an exciting final.
Last year, Williams hit rock bottom when she was ousted in the first round at Roland Garros by 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano. She has been dominant since, going 74-3 and winning titles at Wimbledon, US Open, the Olympics.
But Williams, who has learned French and spoke to the crowd in French after her victory, has always wanted her second French Open title, acknowledging she had won two of each of the major championships in singles and doubles except for the French.
Her drought came to and end–finally.
Williams is without a doubt the best server in tennis and that, along with her defense and returning ability, won her the championship. Overall, she had 10 aces while Sharapova only had two. Her serves were so fantastic she had zero double faults in both sets. Williams was graceful as she went side-to-side to stay in each game and did not show weakness on her least favorite surface. Her long balls had Sharapova scrambling, working hard to stay in each game.
Williams started out as dominant as she has been for most of the tournament, drilling Sharapova’s first three serves of the match to start winning rallies that gave her a triple break in the first game. However, Sharapova’s second serve saved her in the opening game and early in the match, as she mixed up the pace to catch Williams off guard to claw back into the game. Sharapova held serve, then promptly broke Williams in the next game. But Williams was not going to be denied on this day, eventually winning the first set after almost an hour.
Sharapova won the first game of the second set before Williams came back to take a 3-1 lead. In the fourth game, they went to deuce and with the advantage Sharapova hit a 114-mph serve down the T and won after an eight-shot rally to make to cut the deficit to 3 games to 2. Williams then won the eighth game easily, going up 5-4 on Sharapova. She won the third point of that game on an ace on a serve of 127mph and the fourth point was on an ace on a serve of 119mph. Both were down the T, and Williams was up 5-3. Sharapova tried to come back and made it 5-4, but Williams would not back down and used her superior serving skills to win. Up 40-15, Williams won the title on a 124-mph ace down the T.
She dropped to her knees and was overwhelmed with joy. This victory was special. She is back and better than ever. This is her 16th Grand Slam title, which leads all active women. Her record is 43-2 in 2013 and 23-0 on clay. She is the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam title at 31 years old since Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon in 1990 at 33 years old. She could not find the words to describe how she felt. From ESPN:
“Eleven years,” Williams said in French during the trophy ceremony. “I think it’s unbelievable. Now I have 16 Grand Slam titles. It’s difficult for me to speak because I’m so excited.”
Last year Sharapova won to complete a career Grand Slam. She has lost the last 13 meetings against Williams, though, dating back to 2004. From ESPN:
“I played a great tournament and I ran into a really tough champion today,” Sharapova said.
Williams acknowledged Sharapova’s excellent play in her acceptance speech:
“She played a beautiful final,” Williams said in French. “She’s a great champion. I hope to be with her again next year.”
“Merci beaucoup,” Sharapova responded with a laugh.
Next up for Williams is the grass surface at Wimbledon in London, England. She will be the favorite, as she attempts to win her sixth Wimbledon title.