PARIS, France - One of the all-time greats just keeps getting greater. Serena Williams won the French Open on Saturday, not only her 16th overall Grand Slam title, but her first at Roland Garros since 2002 - those 11 years being the biggest gap between winning the same Grand Slam in the Open Era.
In an all-star final between the Top 2 players in the world, things didn't start out too smoothly for Williams - Maria Sharapova came out firing, coming back from 0-40 to hold serve in the opening game then breaking to go up 2-0. She even got to 40-15 in the next game - two points for a 3-0 lead.
But Williams came alive from there, clawing back to break right back, weathering the Sharapova storm over the next several games until getting the critical break for 5-4. She built a 40-0 lead in that game and, after Sharapova saved her first set point with a forehand winner, Williams closed it out, 6-4.
The two held tightly to their service games throughout the second set but a break in the third game was the dealbreaker, as the No.1-seeded Williams inched just ahead of the No.2-seeded Sharapova and didn't really look back, holding the rest of the way and eventually ending it with one last ace, 64 64.
Williams gave her speech in French. "First I'd like to thank my God, Jehovah. And congratulations to you, Maria - you played really, really well today, you were magificent and such a great champion."
The World No.1 then thanked her family, her team, the sponsors, the tournament, the fans - showing she has some major skills in the French language too. She talked about that in English afterwards.
"I always practice weeks and years in advance," she said. "And now I've had 11 years to practice it!
"Actually 11 years ago I didn't even think I'd still be playing. I never thought I would play past 28, or something like that. But I'm still here. And this one was so good. It's the only one I hadn't won more than one of. Now I have multiple titles at every major, singles and doubles, so I'm really pumped."
Sharapova didn't win the match, but - like she does around the world - she won the crowd over.
"Your endless support means so much to me," Sharapova told the crowd. "This court has brought me so many nice memories and it's incredibly special for me to be back here in the final. I'm really proud to be back on this stage in front of you all. I love being part of this tournament and part of this event.
"I'm disappointed to lose, but I ran into a really tough champion today. I gave it all I had. I had to. But it wasn't enough. Serena's been playing incredible tennis this year and the last year as well, and we all saw that level today. So a big congratulations to her. It's really great to see her playing so well.
"But I'm proud of what I've achieved. I got to the French Open final. I did something to get here and I wasn't going to leave without giving everything. If they're going to win, they'll have to work for it.
"I'll be back next year to try and win again."
Sharapova also talked about what makes Williams so tough. "You have to get into the points with her from the beginning," she said. "Today when I had those occasions and opportunities, she would come up with a big serve or a great second ball. That's definitely the toughest part about playing against her."