Sharapova came into this match knowing she had not beaten Serena since her star-making championship win at Wimbledon in 2004 was followed up almost immediately by another success at that year’s WTA Championships.Since then 12 matches had come and gone, including three before this final in 2013; in every match, on any surface, Williams was the winner, and in their last seven meetings Sharapova had clawed hold of just one set. The Russian’s only way of viewing this match as somehow “different” was that they had never met at Roland Garros before.
It was the 31-year-old American’s 16th Grand Slam title win, taking her to within two of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova who are tied for fourth on the all-time list.
Serena Williams won her second French Open title on Saturday, 11 years after her first triumph, defeating title-holder Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-4 in a brief, but high-quality final.
Sharapova was doing enough that Williams even applauded as the Russian raced to the net to volley past her, and her service was not collapsing in the manner that many might have feared. But she needed to find a way back before the set was gone – and with both players making more mistakes than winners, loose play from Serena allowed just that, prompting much audible self-affirmation from Sharapova. Williams wasn’t having it, and next game punched a forehand past her opponent to serve for the set. Sharapova had done all she could, but the set was gone in 51 minutes.
When Williams last won the title here 11 years ago, it was the start of her Serena Slam; and it is worth remembering that had she not been affected by injury in Australia in January of this year, this might have been the completion of another. Of course sport is full of such what-ifs – coulda woulda shoulda. But at 31, she has found new impetus in her game and is a more extraordinary player than ever – and there is nothing conditional about that.