Fight­ing flu, she drops a set in French Open fi­nal, but man­ages to ‘pull it to­gether.’

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS -

Ser­ena Wil­liams re­acts en route to her third ti­tle at Roland Gar­ros as she beats Lu­cie Sa­farova. On the men’s side, No­vak Djokovic beat Andy Mur­ray and will play Stan Wawrinka in fi­nal.

PARIS — What started out as a stroll be­came quite a strug­gle for Ser­ena Wil­liams.

Af­ter go­ing up by a set and two breaks in the French Open fi­nal Satur­day, 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.

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 to­gether.”

That she did, tak­ing the last six games and adding to her 2002 and 2013 cham­pi­onships on the French Open’s red clay. Those go along­side six each from the U.S. Open and Aus­tralian Open, and five from Wim­ble­don.

Only two play­ers in the cen­tury-plus his­tory of Grand Slam ten­nis have more: Mar­garet Court with 24, and St­effi Graf with 22.

Wil­liams, 33, also stretched her win­ning streak at the ma­jors to 21 matches, fol­low­ing ti­tles at the U.S. Open last Septem­ber 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 pos­si­ble.”

Satur­day’s vic­tory did not come eas­ily for Wil­liams, who skipped prac­tice Fri­day be­cause she was sick, sleep­ing un­til the af­ter­noon at her Paris apart­ment.

Owner of the most feared serve in women’s ten­nis, she dou­ble-faulted 11 times.

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.

Wil­liams got bro­ken serv­ing for the match at 6-5 in the sec­ond set, then was down 2-0 in the third, be­fore turn­ing things around.

Ian Langs­don Euro­pean Pressphoto Agency

Fran­coisMori As­so­ci­ated Press

SER­ENA WIL­LIAMS cel­e­brates af­ter beat­ing 13th-seeded Lu­cie Sa­farova of the Czech Repub­lic. Wil­liams earned her third French Open ti­tle.

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