Game-by-game coverage of Serena Williams' enthralling three set win over Lucie Safarova in the French Open final.
WTA Staff

Serena is equally charming, ticking all the boxes in both French and English before hoisting the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen aloft for a third time. Next stop: Wimbledon. Until then, au revoir.

Two-time champion Martina Navratilova is up to present the prizes, first an emotional Lucie Safarova, who thanks the crowd, the sponsors and her impressively hirsute coach.

Serena drops her racquet and points skyward, scarcely able to believe she's champion once more. After taking the acclaim of Court Philippe Chatrier, Serena Williams heads for her box to embrace coach Patrick Mouratoglou. So near, but yet so far, Safarova slumps in her chair, contemplating what could have been.

WILLIAMS WINS 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2! For the first time since the second set, Serena is bossing the points. The exertion of coming back from the brink appears to finally have taken its toll on Safarova, who is late to a backhand that drifts out. She's soon staring down the barrel of three match points. The first is staved off with a slicing serve, but this time there is no escape, netting a forlorn backhand.   

Williams 5-2: Serena pulls off a string of remarkable shots - including a Sharapova-esque left-handed forehand - to win a 19-shot rally. Safarova, though, is refusing to shy away from the battle and responds with a forehand return winner. The Czech has a good look at a forehand on the next point, too, but misses and then nets a tired backhand to slip three games adrift.

Williams 4-2: Williams contorts her body magnificently to manufacture a forehand return winner to get to 15-30. Safarova takes the next two points, but her level has dropped and Williams knows it. The top seed gets to deuce and breaks when the Czech sends a backhand marginally long.

Williams 3-2: Williams is channeling her annoyance well and powers through another love service game.

2-2: Safarova starts well, moving 30-0 ahead, but is pegged back to 30-30 with a brilliant backhand winner. Williams cramps Safarova on the baseline with another pin-point backhand to earn a break point. With the wind swirling, Safarova shows her first sign of nerves, double faulting to hand over the advantage. 

Safarova 2-1: Serena is struggling to conceal her frustration, but does well to steady the ship with a love hold.

Safarova 2-0: In the first two sets it was Williams racing through service games. Now it's Safarova, wasting no time consolidating her break.

Safarova 1-0: For the very first time in the final, Safarova is ahead. Williams makes a bright start, an angled backhand taking her to 30-0, but a string of errors allowed Safarova back into the game. At 30-40, she drags a backhand to drop serve once more.

Twenty minutes ago, who gave the Czech much hope? Only three players have defeated Williams in a Grand Slam final. Can Safarova become the fourth?

----

Safarova 7-6(2): Safarova finds the baseline with another thumping forehand on the first point. Serena looks to be struggling, double faulting to slip 3-0 behind. But on the next point she turns defender to win a titanic struggle. Serena misses by the tightest of margins with a forehand only to fire down a big serve. Fantastic retrieving from Safarova is rewarded as Williams misses a backhand on the first point after the changeover. Safarova has four set points and Williams wilts on the first, finding the net with a forehand return.

6-6: Safarova is enjoying herself out there, kissing the line with a forehand winner on the first point. Serena's response? An ace. Safarova appears in total control of the next point only to snatch at a simple forehand. She's not down for long, though making a far more difficult one on the next point, before a magnificent backhand down the line sees her force the tie-break. Safarova has won all five of her tie-breaks at this year's French Open. Just sayin'...

Williams 6-5: Now it's Safarova's turn to get tight. A couple of loose forehands sail long to hand Williams a break point. And she takes it at the first time of asking as her backhand lands smack on the line for the second time in the game.  

5-5: Serving to stay in the set, Williams opens with an ace before letting out a scream of frustration. This seems to do the trick, as she stops the rot, another ace getting her back on level terms.

Safarova 5-4: What a turnaround! Safarova really believes she can compete now and races up to put away a forehand winner. The errors, meanwhile, are beginning to flow from the other end and the crowd roars its approval as Safarova holds once more.

4-4: All of a sudden Safarova looks revitalized. Whereas, down the other end, there is some serious tension in Williams' racquet hand. She misses badly with a couple of backhands before yet another double fault hands over the second break.

Williams 4-3: Buoyed by finally breaking the Williams serve, Safarova takes the opening point with a marvelous defensive point. A couple of precise serves and a Williams error help to reduce her arrears to one game.

Williams 4-2: Maybe she's human after all? Three double faults gift wrap Safarova one of the breaks back. Any takers for a comeback?

Williams 4-1: Serena is rushing Safarova, who finds herself a break point down when she snatches at a backhand. And she is punished brutally for this mistake, another brilliant backhand winner giving the insurance break.

Williams 3-1: Staging a comeback, though, is another challenge entirely. Williams continues her relentless baseline assault, a squatting backhand winner stretching her lead to two games once more.

Williams 2-1: Safarova, though, is refusing to be intimidated, hanging in there long enough to capitalize on a couple of rare errors and stay in touch.

Williams 2-0: Another blink-and-you-missed-it service game from the World No.1, who opens with an ace as she holds to love.

Williams 1-0: Safarova's task just got that little bit harder. Serena finds the line to earn an early break point, and while Safarova saves this and a few more, she can't escape the danger, Serena wrong footing her with a couple of classy backhands to move a step closer to major number 20.

Safarova is battling against history as well as an on-song opponent if she wants to extend this final to three sets. Only two finals this century have gone the distance at Roland Garros.

----

Williams 6-3: Safarova's display of resistance is short lived. Serena whistles through another imperious service game, taking the set when Safarova nets a backhand return.

Williams 5-3: Trying to stop the Serena Williams juggernaut is no easy matter. Safarova hits a 109mph serve - her fastest of the match - and Serena dismisses it with a forehand winner. Ouch. The left-hander is refusing to be intimidated and saves a set point with an impressive forehand of her own.

Williams 5-2: The Czech's confidence continues to grow, stepping inside the court to fire a backhand winner and get back to 30-30. However, Williams slams the window of opportunity shut emphatically with another ace.

Williams 4-2: Safarova hasn't given up on the set yet, though. A couple of forehand winners help her get back on the scoreboard and - perhaps more significantly - give her confidence a much needed boost. 

Williams 4-1: Even a couple of double faults can't halt Williams' seemingly relentless march towards title number three. Worrying signs for Safarova who is struggling to make an impression in the baseline exchanges.

Williams 3-1: Ominous stuff from Williams who cracks another backhand winner to move to 0-30. She tees off on a short second serve to carve out the first two break points of the final. Only one is required as a forehand return whizzes past a shellshocked Safarova. 

Williams 2-1: First hint of danger for the No.1 seed who is pegged back to 30-30 after an improvised lob from Safarova. But the Czech is unable to capitalize, missing a second serve return before an ace whistles past.

1-1: Serena jumps all over a net cord to thump another backhand winner, but Safarova responds well with a couple of well-placed first serves, taking the game when the American balloons the ball long.

Williams 1-0: How's Serena feeling? Going by that opening game, not too bad. A couple of booming serves and a hellacious crosscourt backhand, helps her rattle through the opening game.

----

Safarova bounds out first, with Williams following moments later. The American's been suffering from the flu in recent days and looks a little weary as she steps out for her third French Open final. Serena wins the toss and, unsurprisingly, elects to serve before posing for the obligatory pre-match photograph.

Right, with the knock-up dispensed with, it's showtime. Well, almost, Serena first pops to the ladies' room.

----

In terms of Grand Slam experience, the two finalists are like chalk and cheese - Williams is playing the 24th major final of her career, while Safarova will be stepping out for her very first. However, the 28-year-old from Brno has been in inspired form en route to the final, taking out former champions Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic along the way. Oh, and she hasn't dropped a set. Could she spring one more upset? With the protagonists now limbering up in the bowels of Court Philippe Chatrier, we're about to find out...

----

Safarova is one of the most popular characters on tour and after years spent knocking on the door will enter the Top 10 for the first time after Roland Garros. At 28 years and four months old, the Czech is bidding to become the sixth oldest first-time Grand Slam winner in the Open Era.

Who are the five older players? Read our ever-informative match notes to find out.

----

Serena Williams' path through the draw at this year's French Open has been anything but serene. In fact, rarely has the outstanding player of her generation looked so out of sorts at the business end of one of tennis' showpiece events, dropping sets left right and center, and in the semifinals looking in danger of dropping to the floor.

Yet, as on so many occasions in the past, Williams has found a way to conquer adversity and now stands on the verge of a 20th Grand Slam crown.

Standing in between her and this is one of the WTA's unsung heroes, Lucie Safarova. Past encounters between the two have been dominated by Williams, who has won all eight and dropped just three sets along the way, but Safarova has elevated her game to a new level this fortnight.