STANFORD, Calif. – Title number 38 … check. Serena Williams’ comeback trail just got a little sweeter after she averted a first set threat to defeat Marion Bartoli of France in the Bank of the West Final on Sunday. Williams came back from being broken twice in the first set to take it 7-5. Then came her signature afterburners in the second, with Williams ultimately taking the championship, 7-5, 6-1.
“It [the victory] means a lot,” she said. “I came here expecting to do well, I was so disappointed at Wimbledon, I just tried some new things, but I didn’t come here thinking I’d win the title and go home.. I haven’t won a tour title in so long, it feels so good.”
The match took one hour, 22 minutes.
Marion Bartoli, who defeated Williams at this year’s Wimbledon in the 4th round, started out of the blocks strong. She was firing aces and 108 mph second serves, but as the match wore on, her level dramatically subsided.
“She’s always playing really well and I know her game now, and I just thought, ‘if she can do that the whole match, keep it up, then that’s fine, I’m gonna still be out here,’ because she did that at Wimbledon. I knew coming in that she was gonna be tough.”
Never one to miss an opportunity to capitalize on an opponent’s weakness though, Williams pounced in the second set, imposing her game by raising her first serve percentage and variety, along with moving Bartoli around the court, beyond her limits. She looked like the controlled aggressor she had in the first three crushing defeats she doled out in the Stanford tournament.
“I still have a lot of room for improvement, which makes me really excited,” she said. “I’m so happy to be on tour again … after everything I’ve been through, I so enjoy it.”
Serena Williams may be noticeably more humble since her return, but don’t be confused, she stills hoists that “no. 1” finger in the air at the end of each victory. The Bank of the West win – her first in her career – will put her closer to that goal, elevating her ranking from no. 169 to no. 80 in the world. -gerald radford