NEW YORK (AP): All these years later, Serena Williams is back as the U.S. Open champion, and she’s back at No. 1, too.
Displaying the talent and tenacity that helped her dominate tennis earlier in the decade, Williams outlasted second-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 6-4, 7-5 for her third U.S. Open championship and ninth Grand Slam title overall on Sunday.
It was Williams’ first triumph at Flushing Meadows since 2002, and it guaranteed that the American will lead the rankings on Monday for the first time since August 2003 _ the longest gap between stints at No. 1 for a woman.
Jankovic was in that spot for one week last month and would have returned there by winning a final that was postponed from Saturday because of Tropical Storm Hanna.
In a thrill-a-minute match full of marvelous strokes and momentum swings, Williams was four times a single point from heading to a third set. But she was simply relentless, and took the final four games.
As good as Jankovic is at retrieving balls and extending points, Williams can do that with the best of them, too, leading to point after point lasting more than a dozen shots as both women scurried around Arthur Ashe Stadium, their sneakers squeaking loudly.
Both sent close-range shots directly at the other.
But the difference in strength was clear: Repeatedly after those lengthy exchanges, Jankovic was left shaking her racket hand, trying to lessen the sting.
On the match’s very first point, Williams drove a backhand winner with such force, such ferocity, that she sent one of her earrings flying.