PARIS — Overcoming a mid-match lull and a third-set deficit, Serena Williams won her third French Open title and 20th major singles trophy by beating 13th-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 on Saturday.
After double-faulting away a two-break lead in the second set, then starting poorly in the third, the No. 1-seeded Williams took the last six games and added to her championships on the red clay of Roland Garros in 2002 and 2013.
Those go alongside six each from the U.S. Open and Australian Open, and five from Wimbledon.
“When I was a little girl, in California, my father and my mother wanted me to play tennis. And now I’m here, with 20 Grand Slam titles,” Williams said in French. “This is very special for me. I haven’t always played very well here, but I’m really happy to win the 20th here.”
She stretched her Grand Slam winning streak to 21 matches, following titles at the U.S. Open last September and Australian Open in January.
Only two women in the century-plus history of Grand Slam tennis have won more major titles than the 33-year-old American: Margaret Smith Court with 24, and Steffi Graf with 22.
But this one did not come easily for Williams, who has been dealing with an illness and skipped practice Friday.
She double-faulted 11 times, part of 42 total unforced errors, 25 more than her opponent. In the third set, she fell behind 2-0, was warned by the chair umpire for an audible obscenity and even resorted to hitting one shot left-handed.
Whatever it takes to win, right? No one does that better than Williams, who is 32-1 in 2015, including 12-0 in three-setters.
She is the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to win the Australian Open and French Open back-to-back and will head to the grass courts of Wimbledon this month with a chance to extend a bid to do just about the only thing she hasn’t accomplished: win a calendar-year Grand Slam.
Thumbnail photo via Susan Mullane/USA TODAY Sports Images