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June 7, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
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Serena Williams of the US holds the cup after defeating Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic during their
final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, yesterday in Paris. Williams
won 6-3, 6-7, 6-2. AP PHOTO
PARIS---What started out as a stroll
became quite a struggle for Serena
After going up by a set and two breaks
in the French Open final yesterday, she
double-faulted away that lead. Then,
suddenly, she trailed in the third set.
As the tension thickened, Williams
was warned by the chair umpire for
cursing loudly. She even felt the need
to hit one shot left-handed.
Ah, but when Williams plays her best,
no one is better. Putting aside a lingering
illness, a mid-match lull and a feisty
opponent, Williams won her third title
at Roland Garros and 20th Grand Slam
singles trophy by beating 13th-seeded
Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic
6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2.
"I got so frustrated. I was just so angry
at myself. I pretty much gave the match
away," the No 1-seeded Williams said,
her voice scratchy and her nose stuffy.
"I just had to, like, try to pull it togeth-
er."That she did, taking the last six games
and adding to her 2002 and 2013 cham-
pionships on the French Open s red clay.
Those go alongside six each from the
US Open and Australian Open, and five
"When I was a little girl, in California,
my father and my mother wanted me
to play tennis," the 33-year-old American
told the crown in French earlier. "And
now I m here, with 20 Grand Slam titles."
Only two players in the century-plus
history of Grand Slam tennis have more:
Margaret Smith Court with 24, and Steffi
Graf with 22.
Williams also stretched her winning
streak at the majors to 21 matches, fol-
lowing titles at the US Open last Sep-
tember and Australian Open in January.
She is the first woman since Jennifer
Capriati in 2001 to win the Australian
Open and French Open back-to-back
and heads to Wimbledon s grass with
a chance to extend a bid to accomplish
just about the only thing she hasn t:
win a calendar-year Grand Slam.
"Why not?" said her coach, Patrick
Mouratoglou. "That s probably the most
difficult thing to do in tennis. But it s
Yesterday s victory did not come easily
for Williams, who skipped practice Friday
because she was sick, sleeping until the
afternoon at her Paris apartment.
"It s been a nightmare," Williams said.
Owner of the most feared serve in
women s tennis, she double-faulted 11
She made 25 unforced errors in the
second set alone, and 42 in all, 25 more
than Safarova, a 28-year-old lefty with
a whip-like forehand appearing in her
first major final. "My first serve aban-
doned me," said Williams, who is 32-
1 in 2015, 12-0 in three-setters. "Once
she saw that I got a little tight, she
started playing really a lot better."
Williams got broken serving for the
match at 6-5 in the second set, then
was down 2-0 in the third, before turn-
ing things around.
"When she was on, she was just serv-
ing amazing and going for the returns,
pressuring me right away," said Safarova,
who will play in the women s doubles
final Sunday with American Bethanie
Mattek-Sands. "It s just hard to do any-
thing with that."
When it was over, Williams dropped
her racket, threw her head back and
lifted her arms into a "V." In the stands,
Mouratoglou held aloft two fingers on
his right hand and made a fist with his
left, to symbolize "20."
And to think: Four times in this tour-
nament, Williams dropped the opening
set before coming back to win, including
in Thursday s semifinals, when she was
lethargic and bothered by the flu.
So the question leading into the final
was: How healthy would Williams be?
She began providing answers from the
Williams closed the first game with
a 120 mph (194 kph) ace. She went up
3-1 by breaking with a cross-court fore-
hand return winner. The first set flew
by and even Safarova acknowledged
afterward, "It was looking like it will be
an easy match."
At 4-1 for Williams in the second,
seemingly all but over, she began to
falter. A dull contest, and the Court
Philippe Chatrier crowd, came to life.
"I just had goose bumps," Safarova
said, "hearing those people cheering."
Coughing between points, Williams
double-faulted twice in a row to get
broken for the first time, then double-
faulted again to make it 4-all.
When Safarova, growing ever more
confident, held moments later, she had
taken four consecutive games. She stood
strong in the tiebreaker and at the outset
of the third set, too, displaying the
strokes that beat past champions Maria
Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic during what
Safarova called an "amazing two weeks
As soon as Safarova made things inter-
esting enough Saturday to perhaps begin
thinking about clutching the silver tro-
phy, Williams quickly regained control,
as she so often does. (AP)
Williams beats Safarova
in 3 sets for 20th major
PARIS---A look at the French Open
Weather: Sunny. High of 72 degrees (22
Women's final: No 1 Serena Williams beat
No 13 Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 for her
third French Open title.
Men's doubles final: No 3 Ivan Dodig and
Marcelo Melo beat No 1 Bob and Mike Bryan
6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5 for their first French
Stat of the Day: 20---Grand Slam singles
titles for Williams, trailing only Margaret
Smith Court (24) and Steffi Graf (22) in
Quote of the day: "It seems a little bit like
a dream. Like: Is this really my life? Is this
really happening right now?"---Williams,
when asked what winning her 20th major
trophy means to her.
On court Sunday: No 1 Novak Djokovic vs
No 8 Stan Wawrinka in the men's final.
Sunday's forecast: Sunny. High of 75
degrees (24 Celsius). (AP)
FRENCH OPEN AT A GLANCE
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