Serena Williams has won her 20th Grand Slam! She’s just two wins away from the world record. Way to go Serena! What an example of endurance, strength, and pure awesomeness!
Serena Williams fights off Lucie Safarova for French Open title
Nick McCarvel, Special for USA TODAY Sports
PARIS – After mounting comeback after comeback this French Open fortnight, Serena Williams was finally asked to thwart one on Saturday in the women’s final.
She did just that.
The world No. 1 let a 6-3, 4-1 lead slip against No. 13 seed Lucie Safarova, a first-time Grand Slam finalist, the American surging back to win her 20th Grand Slam title, a 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2 winner.
“I choked, simple as that you know,” she said in an NBC interview, of letting the lead slip away. “I hit a lot of double faults. My first serve just went off. I didn’t get any first serves in. I got really nervous it was a big moment to win 20.
“From that point she saw that I was nervous and she starting playing the tennis that she can play.”
Williams lost eight of nine games midway through the match, falling behind 2-0 in the third set against a game Safarova, the Czech left-hander. She’d win the final six games of the match, however, sealing victory on a Safarova backhand into the net.
With the victory, Williams is just two shy of Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22. Williams becomes the first woman to win both the Australian and French Opens back to back since Jennifer Capriati in 2001, and looks to equal Graf’s calendar-year Slam (1988) later this year at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Williams won five three-set matches in total this French Open, marking the first time she has had to do so in her career. She trailed by a set in each of the second, third, fourth and quarterfinal rounds, rallying in each of those matches for victory.
It was a bizarre fortnight in Paris for the 33-year-old Williams, who developed flu-like symptoms midway through the tournament.
After appearing out of sorts and moving gingerly in her semifinal win Thursday against Timea Bacsinszky, Williams skipped her post-match press conference that evening, citing illness. Friday she didn’t practice, either, giving pre-final statements via a piece of paper handed around the press center, and deciding not to come onto the grounds of Roland Garros altogether.
The win marks her third in Paris, following victories in 2002 and 2013. This is the tournament that has been the most difficult for Williams in her career, suffering early-round exits in 2012 (first round) and 2014 (second round).
It had been a storybook tournament for “lefty Lucie,” a perennial top-25 player who has found her form in the last year, reaching a first career semifinal at a Grand Slam last year at Wimbledon. Here she registered wins over Maria Sharapova, the defending champion, and Ana Ivanovic, winner here in 2008.
But she was winless in eight previous tries against Williams, their only two meetings on (green) clay prior to Saturday seeing her win just six games in four sets.
Saturday it was a story of streaks, however. Williams won 10 of the first 14 games to lead by 4-1 in the second set, only to watch Safarova fight her way back into the match as Williams’ level dropped. Williams served to stay in the set at 4-5, but then couldn’t serve the match out two games later, leading 6-5 and being two points from the title at 30-all.
In the second-set tiebreak, Safarova jumped to a 4-1 lead and didn’t look back, Williams committing error after error. A Williams forehand into the net gave the set to Safarova.
Williams, however, was 19-4 in Grand Slam finals coming into Saturday and didn’t back down. Trailing 2-0 in the third set, she berated herself audibly on the court, receiving an audible obscenity warning from chair umpire Emmanuel Joseph when she held for 3-2.
Williams won the final six games of the match overall, breaking Safarova on her second championship point when the Czech player put a backhand into the net. Williams dropped her racket in disbelief, launching her arms into the air in celebration before hugging Safarova at the net.
This story and photo (even more photos) are found at http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/tennis/2015/06/06/serena-williams-lucie-safarova-french-open-final/28595435/