PARIS // 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 American national anthem played for the first US 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 123mph – 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 12 months ago.
Since that defeat she is 74-3, including titles at Wimbledon, the US Open, the London Olympics and the season-ending WTA Championships.
Williams, who has a home in Paris, is already thinking about winning again next year.
“I love Paris,” she said. “I spend a lot of time here. I live here. I practice here. I think I am a Parisian.”
Williams also congratulated Sharapova during the ceremony.
“She played a beautiful final,” Williams said in French. “She’s a great champion. I hope to be with her again next year.”
“Merci beaucoup,” Sharapova responded with a laugh.
The women’s final, the first between No 1 and No 2 at a grand slam tournament since 2004, was not as close as their rankings.
It has been 12 years since the most recent three-set women’s title match at Roland Garros.
Williams improved to 43-2 this year, including 23-0 on clay. Now comes the switch to grass, and she will be a heavy favourite to win Wimbledon for the sixth time.
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