French test the toughest for Serena


Published: Saturday 6th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Serena Williams considers her French Open victory the most difficult of all her grand slam triumphs after the American claims she almost withdrew from the final through illness.

Williams held off a late fightback from Lucie Safarova to win 6-3 6-7 (2/7) 6-2 and clinch her third title at Roland Garros – and her 20th overall.

The world number one showed few signs of weakness during her victory on Court Philippe Chatrier, despite her preparation being ravaged by symptoms of flu.

“Is it the most difficult Grand Slam I’ve ever won? For sure,” Williams said.

“When you have the flu your whole body aches. That’s kind of what I have been dealing with.

“Even now I just really don’t have any energy and I just want to go to bed.”

Williams was visibly unwell during her semi-final win over Timea Bacsinszky on Thursday and she skipped practice and press duties on Friday to stay in bed at her Parisian apartment.

“It’s been a nightmare 48 hours,” Williams said.

“After that (semi-final) I was in the locker-room just laying down after the match.

“I don’t even think I made it to press because I was just so out of it. I barely made it home.

“I took a hot shower. I went to bed and then I didn’t leave bed until like 4pm or 5pm yesterday.

“I was just thinking, I have to go for a walk. This house is making me sick. I have to get out. I have to get some air. I went for a walk. I came back. I got worse.

“I talked to all the doctors here and the physios here. I even told the physio, ‘I’m not sure I’m going to be able to play because this is just not looking good.’

“I actually was really bad last night. And then they helped me out.

“I hit a little bit today in the morning and I hit them pretty well.

“I was just like, ‘Okay, I have been playing for over 30 years. I know I can at least play tennis.'”

Williams looked on course for a comfortable victory when she led Safarova a set and 4-1 but the Czech came storming back to win the second set in a tie-break.

Safarova then led 2-0 in the decider but Williams rediscovered her groove, winning six games in a row to seal victory in two hours and one minute.

It is the fifth time in the tournament Williams has won in three sets, which represents a personal record for the American at a grand slam tournament.

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

“Being down from the second, third, fourth round, it wasn’t very easy, so this probably topped for my most difficult time to win.

“But it also makes me feel good that I was able to be fit and able to win the event. I can’t believe I won.”

The victory means Williams is now two short of Steffi Graf’s 22 major titles and four away from Margaret Court’s all-time best 24.

“I haven’t really had a lot of time to take it in. I’m excited. I’m still kind of celebrating number 19,” Williams added.

“So here I am at 20. It seems a little bit like a dream, like, is this really my life?

“Is this really happening right now? It’s really kind of weird.”

While Williams was playing her 24th major final, it was the first of Safarova’s career after the world number 13 had knocked out Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic during a remarkable run in Paris.

“It was an amazing two weeks for me,” the Czech said.

“I loved every second of it. I got great wins, great fight, and reached my best result in my career so far.

“I’m just really satisfied with the way I fought and played here, and it’s something I will take for the future tournaments. H opefully one day I will get the trophy.”

Published: Saturday 6th June 2015 by The News Editor

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