Serena Williams did not play her best tennis over the course of the last two weeks, but it may have been her most impressive.
Battling the flu and her own emotions, the world number one American hung on to defeat Czech Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2 to win the French Open on Saturday, the 20th Grand Slam of her career.
“It got really complicated today,” said Serena. “I was getting a little bit nervous, and Lucie was just playing great. She was a magnificent opponent. She was playing very aggressive and she had no fear. To win my 20th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros is very special for me because I haven’t always had the most success here. I want to thank all of the fans—it’s just a dream that I’ve won this title.”
After taking the first set 6-3, Serena looked to be in control of this one. She built a 4-1 advantage in the second set which led almost everyone to believe it was a matter of moments before she would claim the title. Even NBC announcer Mary Carillo left her announcing booth to go down on court for the trophy presentation.
But Safarova threw a wrench into those plans, launching a spirited comeback that saw her rattle off a couple of break points, eventually taking the set in a tiebreaker. The Czech then broke in the opening game of the deciding set and consolidated it with a hold, building a 2-0 lead.
Serena’s emotions began to show towards the end of the second set, yelling out after most points and throwing in a few curses, which warranted a warning from the chair umpire.
That emotion seemed to wake her up though, as the American won six straight games, capturing the 20th Grand Slam of her career.
“Serena, you were amazing today, you are a great fighter,” Safarova said on-court after the match. “Congratulations.”