French Open: Serena Williams takes game to a superior level

World No 1's power, touch and tenacity sees off defending champion and wraps up a 16th Grand Slam title

Roland Garros

In the excitement of the moment, just after Serena Williams had beaten Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-4 in yesterday's French Open final, a minor faux pas was understandable. Williams has made admirable efforts to speak French in her post-match interviews on court here, but as she tried – presumably – to say that the experience of winning here for the first time for 11 years had been unbelievable, the wrong words came out. "Je suis incroyable [I am unbelievable]," the American told the crowd in Philippe Chatrier Court.

Whatever she had intended to say, nobody could have argued with that comment. At the age of 31, Williams is the oldest woman in the Open era to win at Roland Garros. With 16 Grand Slam titles to her name – from 20 appearances in finals – she is fourth on the all-time list, behind Steffi Graf (22), Martina Navratilova (18) and Chris Evert (18).

At Williams' present rate of return, even Graf's record could be within her reach. Since her shocking defeat in the first round here last year she has lost just three matches and won 11 titles. Yesterday's victory was her 31st win in a row.

Asked after the match to compare her feelings now with 12 months ago, Williams said: "I'm still a little upset about that loss last year, but for me it's all about how you recover. For champions it's about how you recover from your downs, whether those downs are defeats, injuries or whatever."

Sharapova is the world No 2, but the Russian has now lost to Williams 13 times in succession, her last victory over the American having come at the end of 2004. Sharapova was the defending champion here and pushed Williams hard, but from the moment the world No 1 won four games in a row, having lost the first two, the result was rarely in doubt.

The first Roland Garros final between the world's top two ranked women since 1995 – and the first at any Grand Slam event since 2004 – was a hugely competitive affair. The screams of "Come on!" by both players showed how much this meant to them and the level of commitment throughout was outstanding.

Sharapova struck the ball with her usual venom from the baseline, but in truth the Russian never had enough variety in her game to trouble Williams consistently. There were times when she had Williams on the run, chasing balls into the corner, but chose not to come into the net and finish off the point.

Williams, in contrast, showed what an excellent all-court player she has become. While her serve is the most potent weapon in women's tennis – she hit 10 aces in the final and dropped only eight out of 35 points on her first serve – there is much more to her game than that.

Although Sharapova broke back to level the first set at 4-4, Williams quickly took the next two games. Sharapova saved five break points to hold serve in the opening game of the second set, but two games later Williams made what proved to be the last break of the match. She served out for victory after an hour and 46 minutes in appropriate style with a thunderous ace.

Sharapova said that Williams' serve had been crucial and suggested that it was even more powerful than that of David Ferrer, who will face Rafael Nadal in today's men's final.

"I think if I was built like Serena I hope I'd be able to hit a big serve like that, too," Sharapova said. "She's a competitor. She doesn't like to give free points and free games. No matter what the score is, she wants to win those games and those points, whether she's down a break point or up a break point or whatever it is."

The only wonder is that it has taken Williams 11 years to win her second title here. The American has become an excellent performer on clay – she has lost only once on the surface in the last two years – and clearly loves playing here. She has a flat in Paris and is coached by the Frenchman Patrick Mouratoglou at his academy on the outskirts of the capital. "I want to come back here and win again," she told the crowd after her victory. "I think I'm a Parisian."

As Lead Partner of British Tennis, financial services company Aegon is helping to transform the sport, supporting the game at a grass-roots level through to world-class events. For more information please visit:

Serena's grand Slam roll of honour...

Australian Open 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010

French Open 2002, 2013

Wimbledon 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012

US Open 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012

French Open champion Kyle

Kyle Edmund became the first British player to win a title at the French Open for 31 years when he took the boys' doubles championship with Portugal's Frederico Ferreira Silva. Edmund, 18, and Silva beat the Chileans Christian Garin and Nicolas Jarry 6-3 6-3 to claim their second Grand Slam title following their success at last year's US Open. The last British success at Roland Garros was John Lloyd, who won the mixed doubles with Australia's Wendy Turnbull in 1982.

Suggested Topics
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit