PARIS, France - After surviving her toughest ever path to a Grand Slam final - four times in six matches she had to fight back from a set down, even coming within three points of defeat in one of those matches - Serena Williams survived another three-setter against giant-killer Lucie Safarova to win her third Grand Slam title in a row, and the milestone 20th Grand Slam title of her career.
Safarova was having the tournament of her life, powering into her first Grand Slam final without even dropping a set, taking out a pair of former champions - Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic - en route.
Meanwhile, Williams was having the fight of her life time and time again en route to the final, having to rally from a set down four times in six matches, her closest call coming in the fourth round as she was three points from losing against inspired WTA Rising Star Sloane Stephens serving at 1-6, 4-5, 0-15.
And she wasn't out of the woods yet. It looked like it was going to be an easier day at the office for a while - after just over an hour on the court Williams found herself up a set and a double break at 6-3, 4-1, even going up 40-15 in that game - double game point for a seemingly unstoppable 6-3, 5-1 lead.
The match turned in a big way from there. Safarova dug out of that double game point and ended up winning five of the next seven games to push the second set to a tie-break, and after she raced through that tie-break, she raced out to an early 2-0 lead in the third set - Williams was in real danger.
But like she's done so many times in her illustrious career there was one last fightback left, and the No.1-seeded Williams won six games in a row to edge the No.13-seeded Safarova, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2.
An elated Williams spoke to the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd afterwards - in French.
"It got really complicated today," Williams said. "I was getting a little bit nervous, and Lucie was just playing great. She was a magificent opponent. She was playing very aggressive and she had no fear.
"To win my 20th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros is very special for me because I haven't always had the most success here. I want to thank all of the fans - it's just a dream that I've won this title."
And when asked to say a few words to her fans at home in English? "Everyone watching back home, thank you for all the support. This is just a dream for me. I love you, I love you, I love you - thank you!"
Williams is the third player in tennis history, male or female, to win 20 majors, after Margaret Court (24) and Steffi Graf (22). She's the first player to win three straight majors since she did it herself during the Serena Slam, when she won four straight between the 2002 French Open and 2003 Australian Open. And she's the first player to win the Australian-French Open double since 2001 (Jennifer Capriati).
She will also extend her lead atop both the WTA Rankings and Road To Singapore leaderboard.