Serena makes triumphant start to her 'new career'

It was a chilling message for the rest of women's tennis. "I feel like I have a new career," Serena Williams said here in the early hours of yesterday morning after claiming her third US Open singles title. "I feel so young and I feel so energised to play every week and to play every tournament. I feel like there's just so much that I can do in my career yet. I've never felt like I've played my best tennis."

Williams, who beat Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 7-5 is still only 26, but this was her first home Grand Slam title for six years. Two years ago she was being written off, having hardly played and apparently lost her appetite for tennis. Now she is back at the top of the women's rankings for the first time for five years and ready to dominate as she did with her sister Venus after the turn of the century.

Serena and Venus, 28, have already seen off Martina Hingis twice, most notably after the Swiss Miss had spent a total of 209 weeks as world No 1 between 1997 and 2001; Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, who both retired before their 26th birthdays; and Lindsay Davenport and Amélie Mauresmo, who are playing out their days on the women's circuit.

Now the sisters, who were taught the game by their father on the public courts at Compton in California, are threatening to leave a new generation of players in the shade. Maria Sharapova, 21, is nursing her injured shoulder and healthy bank balance; Ana Ivanovic, 20, has yet to prove she can sustain the form that brought her a first Grand Slam title in Paris three months ago; Dinara Safina, 22, must perform on the biggest stages; Jankovic, 23, may ultimately lack the sheer physical strength to beat the sisters.

While the final was one of the better matches, this US Open has not been a great advertisement for women's tennis. The best match by some margin was the battle between the Williams sisters in the quarter-finals and from a very early stage the smart money was on one of the two women to take the crown.

So long as the sisters retain their commitment to tennis, the game's biggest prizes, with the possible exception of the clay-court title in Paris, appear to be theirs for the taking. Venus, who beat Serena in the Wimbledon final, looks unstoppable on grass, while both women appear to have the beating of everyone else on hard courts. They have already won 16 Grand Slam titles between them.

This was Serena's ninth and reward for her hard work and dedication. When she came back to win last year's Australian Open as the world No 81 she looked well short of peak condition, but her fitness here has been evident. She did not drop a set in the entire tournament, matching her achievement in 2002, when she was on course for her "Serena Slam", winning all four majors in succession but not in the same calendar year.

"I've been working so hard all year," she said. "Sometimes I've woken up at six in the morning to go and practise and it was too dark. I'd have to wait until it gets light. It's just paying off. No one really knows the work that an athlete puts in."

Jankovic, who would also have taken over the No 1 ranking if she had won, was outhit for periods of the match, but the Serb is a dogged performer and fought back well in the second set. At one stage Williams was serving at 3-5 and 0-40, but Jankovic was unable to capitalise.

"I felt I had her, because she was really tired at the end of the second set," Jankovic said. "Who knows what would have happened if I had got into a third set? I probably would have had the upper hand. But who knows?"

In her moment of victory Serena could not contain her joy, repeatedly jumping in the air in celebration. "I never knew Serena to be very, very excited," her father Richard said. "I knew Serena to be very, very mean. I describe her as being a combination of a pit bull dog, a young Mike Tyson and an alligator."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us