STANFORD, CA, USA - Things looked dubious for her early on - Angelique Kerber, who was playing on a new breath of life after coming back from match point down to win her semifinal match, jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first set. But Serena Williams wasn't done - she wasn't even done with the set - and not before long she had the final, 7-6(1), 6-3, and her third Bank Of The West Classic title.
Williams came into the tournament with some question marks - she was coming off earlier-than-expected losses at both the French Open and Wimbledon, and she was playing her first tournament of the summer hardcourt season. But after winning two of her first three matches back in straight sets, and showing her trademark resolve during her come-from-behind 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over an in-form Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinals, there was no doubt that the 17-time Grand Slam champion was back.
The No.1-seeded Williams showed that resolve against the No.3-seeded Kerber in the final, too, swatting away that early 5-1 deficit - plus two set points down 5-2 - and eventually sneaking the match out in straight sets, and putting together some impressive numbers along the way too. She had five more unforced errors in the match than Kerber (28 to 23) but a whopping 19 more winners (37 to 18).
"When I was down 5-1, I was just thinking I had to take it one point at a time," Williams said. "I knew I just had to relax and not be so crazy. Up until that point I wasn't doing what I wanted to do, and what I had been doing in practice, so I knew I just had to start doing the right things going forward.
"I feel like I'm on the right track again. I feel like I can play even better - I wasn't serving my best, and I wasn't making as many winners off the return as I wanted to, but I think I'm getting there."
Williams was also asked if winning the US Open would make the disappointment of not winning one of the first three Grand Slams go away - and in a moment of pure honesty, she lit up the press room.
"It would definitely make it better, but it wouldn't make it go away," she said. "It would definitely be great, but right now I'm just focused on the next tournament, which right now is in Toronto."
And then, a quick pause.
"I mean Montréal!" she said. "I definitely won't go to Toronto, I won't win a match there!"
Williams not only won her third Bank Of The West Classic title, but also her fourth WTA title of the year, more than anyone else on the tour. It was the 61st WTA title of the World No.1's legendary career.
She also makes a major move on the Road To Singapore leaderboard - Williams goes from No.6 to No.4 on the year-long race to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, which will be held in October, trailing only Maria Sharapova, WTA Rising Star Simona Halep and Li Na.
The doubles final took place later in the day and No.3 seeds Garbiñe Muguruza and Carla Suárez Navarro came out on top, originally leading 6-2, 4-3 but eventually having to beat Paula Kania and Katerina Siniakova in a match tie-break, 6-2, 4-6, 10-5. It was the pair's first WTA doubles title together - Muguruza now has three WTA doubles titles to her name, while Suárez Navarro won her very first.