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The path to this title pushed her harder than most of her previous 19. She had to win four three-set matches in the earlier rounds, something she has not had to do at a major since she was 17. She said playing back-to-back-to-back three-setters was borderline "unprofessional" for someone of her caliber.

Fittingly, she needed a third set to take the crown on Saturday.

She'd also said she was more sick than she'd ever been, worn out by a flu that has spread to at least four other players and several members of the media during the fortnight in Paris. Yet everytime Williams seemed to be on the brink of defeat, she rallied back.

On Saturday, there was never a hint of illness. This was her match to lose, and she came out firing. The first set looked almost clinical, Williams needing only 17 minutes to build a 4-1 lead. She built a 4-1 lead again in the second, victory seeming imminent. NBC's Mary Carillo left the announcer's booth, heading down to the court level to conduct the celebratory post-match interview.

But Safarova, the 28-year-old Czech playing in her first Grand Slam final, was not about to go down without a fight. She rallied to win four straight points, building a 5-4 lead. Both breaks came on a Williams double fault. Trailing 4-5, Williams held serve to even the match at 5-all, then broke Safarova to regain control. Now, surely, it was over.

Serving for the win and her 20th title, Williams shanked a forehand into the net at 30-30, giving Safarova the break point opportunity. Safarova converted with a backhand winner down the line. Six-all. Not over yet.

Safarova pumped her fist triumphantly. The underdog carried that momentum into the tiebreak, jumping out to a 3-0 lead and eventually taking it, 7-2, and forcing a final set. Carillo returned to the booth.
When Safarova opened the third set with a break, then held serve for the 2-0 lead, it was clear that Williams was going to need to dig deeper, to find some sort of inspiration to get out of this unexpected mess. After evening the set at 2-all, Williams could be heard screaming "What are you doing?" at herself between points. She held serve again to take the 3-2 advantage. On the changeover, she let loose several explitives, earning a warning for an "audible obscenity."

Her words seemed to work. Her intensity level peaked as she broke Safarova to take the 4-2 lead. Carillo wondered out loud if she should be moving back downstairs. Williams held serve. 5-2. At 40-0, with a triple-break-point, triple-match-point opportunity, Williams let out her loudest roar of the day.

As the final point went her way, Williams raised both hands. She let her racket drop from her grip. Her smile was tight, controlled, a far cry from the joyous, jubilent expression she displays after most of her U.S. Open and Australian Open wins. This one did not come easy.

"I choked. Simple as that. I think you have to admit to it," Williams told Carillo. "She took it to me."

"This is by far the most dramatic [Grand Slam win]. I didn't even train yesterday. I've had the flu. It's been a nightmare," she added. "She played great but I just needed to step it up. I stopped thinking and I started playing and I started doing and next thing you know I won."

This was the eighth time Williams has had to play a deciding set in a Grand Slam final. She's now a perfect 8-0. Safarova's title hopes are not completely diminished – she will play for the women's doubles title with partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands on Sunday.

Williams has now won the last three Grand Slams. She's the first woman to win the first two Grand Slam events in the same year since Jennifer Capriati did so in 2001. The last woman to win all four slams in the same year was Graf, who did so in 1988.  

"Twenty is pretty amazing to me," Williams said. But she won't savor it for long. "Unfortunately I'm thinking about Wimbledon."


Credit - Yahoo sports

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