Serena wins at Stanford in final Olympic tuneup
Serena Williams overcame a shaky start and two service breaks to beat lucky loser Coco Vandeweghe 7-5, 6-3 on Sunday for her second straight Bank of the West Classic title.
Eight days after winning Wimbledon, Williams saved a set point and won the final four games of the opening set. It was the 43rd WTA Tour championship of Williams' career, tying older sister Venus for the most among active players.
The first all-American WTA final on home soil in eight years was hardly a one-sided affair.
The 20-year-old Vandeweghe, who failed to make it out of qualifying and got into the main draw only when Bojana Jovanovski withdrew with an injury, moved the 14-time Grand Slam champion and her highlighter-yellow outfit all over the court to give Williams her only real challenge of the week.
The final result was still the same.
Williams whipped a backhand crosscourt that Vandeweghe sent sailing wide for an early break to go ahead 2-0. In what looked to be another rout by Williams, the young American showed some fight.
Vandeweghe immediately broke twice in the first set - both with Williams struggling on tosses into the sunny side of the court - and ripped a 121 mph ace in her next game. But serving for the set at 5-4, Vandeweghe crumbled when she had the chance to put a dent into Williams' final tuneup before the London Olympics.
All it took was one point.
Williams walloped a soft second serve with another backhand crosscourt to save a set point. And on the sixth break chance of the game, Vandeweghe double-faulted - a theme throughout a sun-splashed afternoon in the biggest moments of the match.
She finished with five double-faults and six aces. Williams didn't fare much better with nine aces and six double-faults, but she won 81 percent of her first serve points and waited for her opponent to make mistakes.
Vandeweghe again double-faulted to give Williams a set point at 6-5, and Williams smacked a another backhand crosscourt that Vandeweghe barely got a racket on to take the set. Williams gave a light fist pump and stayed steady, just as she had done for most of the last month in her latest rise up the rankings.
Another double-fault by Vandeweghe on break point gave Williams a 3-1 lead in the second set. Williams served out the match and put away one final forehand winner on match point, giving another light fist pump and showing little emotion - especially compared to her hug-filled celebration with family eight days earlier on Wimbledon's grass.
The fourth-ranked Williams, still jet-lagged from traveling more than 5,000 miles and eight time zones from the All England Club, never looked at her dominating best at Stanford. But she did exactly what she wanted all week: just win.
Not only did she defend her points to stay on track to regain the No. 1 world ranking, she did it on a court that will forever hold a special place in her heart. The tournament is where Williams' comeback took shape last year when she beat Marion Bartoli in the finals for her first WTA title since returning from blood clots in her lugs and two foot operations that threatened her life and career for almost a year.
The last player to win consecutive titles at Stanford was Kim Clijsters in 2005-06. Clijsters is also second behind the Williams sisters with 41 career WTA titles.
The last all-American final at home on the WTA Tour came in 2004, when Lindsay Davenport topped Williams in Los Angeles.