Both finalists were coming off marathon semifinal wins the day before, Williams rallying from a first set blowout to beat Caroline Wozniacki, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, and Ivanovic battling almost three hours and fighting off two match points to overcome Maria Sharapova in a Saturday night thriller, 6-2, 5-7, 7-5.
And the two players had gone to three sets in all three of their previous meetings this year, with Ivanovic winning at the Australian Open and Williams prevailing at Rome and Stanford. This was their first time playing in a final, though - would that change things, and who would that favor?
The Turning Point
The No.9-seeded Ivanovic came out firing, breaking in the first game of the match en route to a 3-1 lead, and even holding three more break points to go up a double break - but that's when the match turned on a dime, the No.1-seeded Williams reeling off 10 points in a row and taking complete control of it, eventually winning 11 of the next 13 games to run away with it in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1.
The match numbers weighed heavily in Williams' favor, as she put together a +13 differential of winners to unforced errors, 26 to 13. Ivanovic, meanwhile, put together a -8 differential, 13 to 21.
Neither player hesitated to give props to the other during the on-court trophy ceremony.
"It's been a great week for me in Cincinnati," Ivanovic said. "I really want to congratulate Serena. I think I got a lesson on how to serve today. Maybe after you retire you can give me some tips!"
"Congratulations to Ana - she's such a great champion and such a wonderful, wonderful young lady," Williams commented. "It's so good to see wonderful women like her leading our tour right now.
"It's just amazing to finally win here. The fans were amazing and it's so wonderful to be here."
By The Numbers
Williams won her fifth WTA title of the year - no one else has more than three - and 62nd WTA title of her career. She's still No.7 on the all-time list, but only five short of No.6, Billie Jean King, who has 67.
She will also take a step - a big step, mind you - up the Road To Singapore leaderboard, the year-long journey to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, going from No.4 to No.3, passing Agnieszka Radwanska and trailing just Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep as of now.
Additionally, Cincinnati was becoming one of the most elusive WTA events to Williams' trophy cabinet - she had never won here in five previous tries, second-most to Sydney, where she has never won in six previous tries. But it turned out to be sixth time lucky for the World No.1 at the Premier-level event.
And looking a little forward, Williams also clinched the Emirates Airline US Open Series title by winning her semifinal match on Saturday, and will now go for a record $4 million payout at the US Open - she already has the record for biggest payout in tennis history alongside Rafael Nadal (they both captured the Emirates Airline US Open Series and US Open titles last year and took home $3.6 million).