Serena Williams won her 38th WTA title at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford.


With only Eastbourne and Wimbledon on her points total, Williams came into Stanford ranked a lowly No.169, far from the on-paper favorite she used to be when she was No.1. And in a draw that had four Top 10 players in it, even the biggest believers would have had some doubts. But none of that mattered at all. Playing a WTA tournament in America for the first time since 2009, Williams came out blazing, beating fellow 29-year-old Anastasia Rodionova by a double bagel in the first round. After a second set hiccup in the second round – she beat Maria Kirilenko, 62 36 62 – she went into high gear again, stunning Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals, 61 63, and Sabine Lisicki in the semifinals, 61 62.

Even after those wins, Williams still wasn’t completely satisfied. “There are still shots I’m not going for and not making that I know I can make once I get more confident and more match play. I’ll be able to make those,” Williams said. “It’s encouraging to me that I can do more, I can do better.”

On the other side of the draw the No.9-ranked player in the world, Marion Bartoli, was cruising. Seeded No.3 with a first round bye, she beat Canada’s Rebecca Marino in straight sets and then enjoyed some reprieve in the next two rounds – a 61 retirement win over Japan’s Ayumi Morita in the quarterfinals and a semifinal walkover over No.8 seed Dominika Cibulkova, due to an abdominal injury. For Williams a final battle with Bartoli was a chance for revenge. Four weeks ago, Bartoli beat her in the fourth round of Wimbledon, where she was the two-time defending champion. And she would get her revenge. Bartoli was up 4-2 in the first set and even served for it at 5-4 but Williams would not let it get away from her again, as she reeled off eight straight games to go up 75 50. Bartoli held one last time, then Williams served it out.

Williams is now an incredible 38-14 in WTA finals in her career. With the title she is projected to more than half her ranking and move back into the Top 80 players in the world.


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