They did the cool thing, the classy thing, by bringing Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert out to embellish, or even to authenticate, the occasion of Serena Williams joining their 18 Grand Slam singles victory club Sunday evening after Williams toyed with Caroline Wozniacki in the United States Open final.
The request was made Saturday, Navratilova would say, after standing with Evert in a corner of the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium, waiting for Mary Carillo to cue them to the presentation of the championship trophy and a shiny bracelet.
Once upon an era, the career-long rivals Navratilova and Evert shared bagels in the locker room before fittingly finishing their careers with the same number of slams. Now it was their turn to hug and welcome into the fold a woman they — and Carillo, the former player and esteemed tennis commentator — didn’t always shower with praise, didn’t always think gave the game the respect it deserved.
NEW YORK — Top-seeded Serena Williams won her 17th Grand Slam title and her fifth U.S. Open on Sunday with a 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1 victory over second-seeded Victoria Azarenka on Arthur Ashe Stadiumcourt. When Azarenka’s final service return went long, Williams pumped her fists and yelled, “Come on.” Williams had also won the French Open this year and seemed well on her way to her second straight U.S. Open title when she led 7-5, 4-1 Sunday.
But the 31-year-old Williams was broken twice when serving for the match and then lost the tiebreaker to the 24-year-old Azarenka, who won the Australian Open this year. A swirling wind was a factor in the match and seemed to particularly bother Williams, who at times had to fight to keep her dress from flying up and her ball toss in line.
At one point in the first set, Williams mouthed to her box, “I can’t play in this wind.” She was frustrated. She would moan after missed shots. When Azarenka held for a 3-2 lead in the first set, Williams yelled, “Oh, God,” when her forehand flew wide.
NEW YORK — For eight intense, entertaining games, Sloane Stephens stayed right with Serena Williams. For a 40-minute stretch in the fourth round of the US Open, the top two American women put on quite a show. Both hit serves topping 115 mph. Both whipped groundstrokes to the corners. Both covered a lot of ground, extending points with leg-churning defense. Both showed the occasional sign of nerves, reflecting what a big deal this was, in part because the 15th-seeded Stephens already was one of only three players to beat No. 1 Williams this season. Until, that is, the score was 4-all in the first set Sunday. That’s when Williams took over.
The 20-year-old Stephens’ time at the top of tennis may come. For now, the 31-year-old Williams is still as good as it gets. Taking eight of the last nine games, defending champion Williams returned to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows by beating Stephens 6-4, 6-1.
“When you give her that opportunity to take that step forward, she definitely makes her move,” Stephens said. “Unfortunately, today she made her move. I just couldn’t get back in.” Still, all in all, it was remarkably compelling and, within individual points, rather evenly played for what turned out to be such a runaway. “I definitely think it was a high-quality match,” said Williams, 64-4 with eight titles this year. “We both came out today to play.”
Serena Williams won her 53rd WTA title by beating Johanna Larsson, 6-4, 6-1, in the final of the Swedish Open on Sunday at Bastad. The 24-year-old Swede broke to lead 3-1 in the first set before Williams fought back to 3-3. Larsson advanced to 4-3 before caving in to the American’s strong serve and losing the next three games. Williams dominated the second set, breaking Larsson’s serve twice. Williams also defeated 76th-ranked Larsson in their only previous match in the Fed Cup earlier this year.
PARIS (AP) — Serena Williams won her 16th Grand Slam title and her first French Open championship since 2002 on Saturday, relentlessly chasing down one shot after another to defeat familiar foil Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-4. “Eleven years,” Williams said in French during the trophy ceremony. “I think it’s unbelievable. Now I have 16 Grand Slam titles. It’s difficult for me to speak because I’m so excited.”
Then the national anthem played for the first American singles champion at Roland Garros since Williams’ previous title. Williams whacked 10 aces, including three in the final game, and the last came on match point at 123 mph — her hardest serve of the day. She then sank to her knees, screamed at the sky and buried her face in the clay.
The victory completed her rebound from a shocking loss to 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano in the first round at the French Open a year ago. Since that defeat she’s 74-3, including titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the London Olympics and the season-ending WTA Championships.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Venus Williams outlasted fellow American Ververa Lapchenko in three sets Friday to start a long day of tennis for the Williams’ family at the rain-delayed Family Circle Cup.
Venus was up a set and held a 3-0 lead in the second set before Lapchenko won six of the next seven games to force a third set. Lapchenko led 1-0 before Williams found her game and closed out the set, 6-2. Williams will face 18-year-old Madison Keys later Friday for a spot in the semifinals Saturday.
Top-ranked Serena Williams also must play twice Friday after a 7 1-2 hour rain delay wiped out much of Thursday’s schedule. Serena will play Mallory Burdette. If she wins, she’ll play either sixth-seeded Lucie Safarova or Sorana Cirstea.
Serena Williams poses with trophy after winning the womens finals beating Maria Sharapova in three sets at the Sony Ericsson Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Mandatory Credit: INFphoto.com)
KEY BISCAYNE, Florida (AP) — Serena Williams danced to the crowd’s roar, spinning and grinning, hopping and waving, then spinning some more. If her victory celebration on the stadium court seemed well-rehearsed, it was. She earned a record sixth Key Biscayne women’s title by beating familiar foil Maria Sharapova 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 at the Sony Open on Saturday.
Sharapova set a new standard for futility in finals. She completed a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open last year, and won Indian Wells two weeks ago, but she’s winless in five Key Biscayne finals. Sharapova playing nearly flawless tennis for an hour, before her serve and groundstrokes began to lose steam. Williams swept the last 10 games and faltered only during the trophy ceremony.
The story of how Venus and Serena Williams grew to become two of the world’s most notable tennis stars is quite fascinating. The sisters, who are only 15 months apart, are finally telling their story from the beginning with the release of the documentary, Venus and Serena. Watch the super-trailer above to see the sisters give a never-before-seen glimpse into their lives as not only world-renowned champions, but sisters and best friends, too. The film will be released on iTunes April 4 and in theatres May 10.
Serena Williams of the U.S. returns the ball to Poland’s Urszula Radwanska on the fourth day of the WTA Qatar Ladies Open tennis tournament in Doha, Qatar, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — An emotional Serena Williams returned to the top of women’s tennis, overcoming a series of potentially career-ending injuries since 2010 to become the oldest woman ever to hold the No. 1 ranking. The 31-year-old Williams rallied from 4-1 down in the third to beat former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Qatar Open on Friday. She needed to reach the semifinals to replace Victoria Azarenka at No. 1 when the rankings come out next week.
Williams held up one finger after clinching the match with an ace and wiped away the tears as she addressed the cheering crowd. “I never thought I would be here again,” Williams said. “Oh my gosh, I’ve been through so much. I never thought I would be here.”
Chris Evert held the top ranking in 1985 just shy of her 31st birthday. It has been a long journey back to the top for Williams.