French Open: World No 1 Serena Williams beats Maria Sharapova in straight sets
Serena Williams claimed a second French Open title 11 years after her first with a 6-4 6-4 win against Maria Sharapova.
Last Updated: 09/06/13 12:52pm
The top seed had to produce her best tennis in an absorbing contest to battle past the Russian, who was looking for back-to-back Paris wins.
Sharapova remains winless against her nemesis in nine years despite a brave effort in a match which lasted one hour and 46 minutes.
She saved four break-points with some huge serving to hold in the opening game as both players unloaded with their groundstrokes in their first meeting on clay at Roland Garros.
The Russian broke to 15 on Williams' first return game as she pushed the American back behind the baseline, adding great length to her flat forehands.
However, the 31-year-old hit back by breaking in the third game after taking a high defensive lob out of the air and hammering it into the open court.
And there was another break in the fifth game after Williams crashed an accurate forehand angled return winner. But in the eighth game the second seed restored parity at 4-4 with yet another break in what was turning out to be a very competitive contest.
The next game proved to be pivotal, with Williams once again coming out on top as she bludgeoned her angled crosscourt forehand past a despairing Sharapova, who could only watch the ball fly past her outstretched racquet.
And Williams won the opening set after 51 minutes of action on a hazy, warm day in the French capital by holding comfortably on her next service game.
Williams, who dropped just one set en-route to the final, broke Sharapova's resistance in the third game of the second set as the 26-year-old lashed her double-handed backhand into the tramlines.
The match then went with serve, and at 5-4 Williams showed no signs of nerves as she hammered down three aces before falling to her knees in delight at victory.
Her collection of 16 major championships includes five from Wimbledon, five from the Australian Open, four from the US Open and now two from Roland Garros taking her to within two of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova who are tied for fourth on the all-time list.
Williams also extended her winning streak to 31 consecutive matches. Since a first-round defeat in Paris last year she has won 74 of 77 matches.
It was left to four-time Grand Slam champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to present the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen trophy to a delighted Williams.