Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Serena charges to No. 1

NEW YORK — Serena Williams flung her racket aside and jumped for joy, looking like someone who had just won her first Grand Slam title.

It was her ninth. But it sure had been a while since her last one.

Displaying the talent and tenacity that helped her dominate tennis earlier in the decade, Williams outlasted Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 7-5 Sunday night in a thrill-a-minute match full of marvelous strokes and momentum swings to win her third U.S. Open championship.

And there was this "added bonus," as Williams termed it: She returns to No. 1 in the rankings.

As the women met at the net afterward, Williams felt compelled to say to Jankovic, "I'm sorry I got so excited."

No apology necessary.

Four times a single point from heading to a third set, Williams was simply relentless. She took the final four games.

She also won the title without dropping a set. The closest she came to losing one was in the quarterfinals, when she beat older sister Venus in two tiebreakers.

On this night, Venus was in the guest box, cheering for her sister.

After it was over, their father, Richard, climbed out of his second-row seat to help Serena celebrate, while her mother and Venus applauded in the box.

"Serena was a better player tonight," Jankovic said. "She was just too good tonight."

It was Williams' first triumph at Flushing Meadows since 2002, and it guaranteed that the American will lead the rankings today 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 the title match, which was postponed from Saturday night because of Tropical Storm Hanna.

As good as the second-seeded 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.

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 first point, Williams drove a backhand winner with such force, such ferocity, that she sent one of her earrings flying.

The fourth-seeded Williams finished with 44 winners, 29 more than Jankovic, and smacked serves at up to 120 mph, a 14 mph edge over her opponent's fastest.

Serena's victory over Venus in the quarterfinal was a key to this victory, but the final master stroke was beating Jankovic, a first-time major finalist who was far from being a deer in the headlights.

U.S. Open

Men's final: Roger Federer (2)
vs. Andy Murray (6), 5 p.m. today, Ch. 10

Murray stuns Nadal

Andy Murray holds off a charge by top seed Rafael Nadal in their suspended semifinal Sunday to make his first Grand Slam final. 8C

Serena charges to No. 1 09/08/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 4:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.