French Open final: Serena Williams wins 20th Grand Slam

Serena Williams
Williams becomes the third player - male or female - to win 20 major singles titles.
French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris
Coverage: Live text and BBC Radio 5 live commentary of the men's final from 13:30 BST on Sunday

Serena Williams won a dramatic French Open final against Czech 13th seed Lucie Safarova to claim her 20th Grand Slam title.

The American, ranked number one, needed two hours and one minute to win 6-3 6-7 (2-7) 6-2 at Roland Garros.

Safarova, playing her first Grand Slam final, led by a break in the decider but Williams won the last six games.

The 33-year-old becomes the third player - male or female - to win 20 major singles titles.

Only Germany's Steffi Graf on 22 has won more since the open era began in 1968, with Australia's Margaret Court collecting 24 between 1960 and 1973.

Victory at Wimbledon in July would see Williams hold all four major titles at once, having managed the feat already in 2003.

Lucie Safarova
Safarova produced a thrilling comeback but faltered midway through the deciding set

There had been doubts over whether the 2002 and 2013 French Open champion would even make it to court for Saturday's final after a debilitating bout of sickness.

"It makes this trophy really special," Williams said. "I really wanted it. I wanted to win so bad.

"I just felt like I had every opportunity in this match. Being down from the second, third, fourth round, it wasn't very easy, so I probably topped for my most difficult time to win.

"But it also makes me feel good that I was able to be fit and be able to win the event. I can't believe I won, but it's cool."

Safarova said: "I'm proud that I fought back in the second set, because it was looking like it will be an easy match.

"Serena was really strong out there. I just pushed myself to step up the level."

Williams had visibly struggled in Thursday's semi-final, coughing and looking close to tears, and then cancelled all media commitments, only practising two hours before the final.

Analysis, BBC Tennis correspondent Russell Fuller
"If Williams hadn't served three double faults in one game midway through the second set, we may never have seen what a thrilling player Safarova can be.
"To have won the third set - even from a break up - against a champion like Williams always seemed unlikely, but she made the 33 year old work extremely hard for a third consecutive Grand Slam title.
"Williams was taken to a deciding set in five of her seven matches at Roland Garros. Fighting illness, her extraordinary mental strength has rarely been so evident."

The rest appeared to have had the desired effect as she took the first set with a break in game four and powered on in the second.

She had won all eight matches she had played against Safarova and, serving at 4-1, 40-15 in the second set, there appeared no possibility of the American faltering.

However, three double faults in the game brought Safarova unexpectedly back into the contest, and the Czech kept herself alive again four games later with a backhand winner.

Safarova, 28, was now much the sharper in terms of footwork and she dominated the tie-break before moving ahead with a break at the start of the decider.

Williams was now struggling to keep calm, screaming at herself after errors and picking up a warning for her language from the umpire, but she proved once again why she is the undisputed number one.

Safarova double-faulted for the first time in the match to bring Williams level at 2-2 and the top seed ratcheted up the pressure.

Another heavy return helped her break for 4-2 and a left-handed forehand followed in the next game as Williams reached for every shot in the book, sealing victory with her seventh break of the match.

Most Open era Grand Slam match wins
NameVictoriesTitles
Martina Navratilova30618
Chris Evert29918
Steffi Graf27822
Serena Williams27320
Venus Williams2247
Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario2104
Serena Williams and Martina Mavratilova
Martina Navratilova - an 18-time Grand Slam champion and two-time French Open winner -presented Williams with the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen

Top Stories