Serena Williams wins Family Circle Cup title

April 8, 2012

Serena Williams capped a dominant week with another powerful performance to beat Lucie Safarova 6-0, 6-1 and capture her first clay-court tournament in four years at the Family Circle Cup on Sunday.

Williams didn't drop a set in five matches this week and lost only three games over the weekend, dispatching Samantha Stosur, 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals before ousting Safarova. She hadn't won a tournament on clay - or even gotten to a final on the surface - since taking the 2008 championship here.

Williams has said throughout the week how comfortable she felt in her short time on clay this year. That showed against the 25-year-old Safarova, ranked 26th in the world.

Williams served a 107-mph ace on match point, shrieking in joy and waving to the crowd.


Williams came into the week off a trip to the quarterfinals at the Sony Ericsson Open and had just a day or so to get in any work on the slower clay at the Family Circle Tennis Center. She looked rusty in her opening match, a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Elena Vesnina on Tuesday.

But Williams came back in her next match with a strong attitude and a much sharper game. She took out Marina Erakovic 6-2, 6-2 and was in control early in her quarterfinals win over Sabine Lisicki, who retired after twisting her left ankle.

Williams was at her best, though, on the weekend.

She didn't give Stosur, the reigning U.S. Open champion, room to breathe in the semifinals. Williams concluded the clay-court run with her win over Safarova.

How dominant was Williams' serve? She was not broken in 24 service games over her last four matches.

''She was amazing,'' said Safarova, who fell to 0-5 against Williams. ''She deserves to be the champion.''

And Williams may be prepared to win even more this clay-court season.

She's not scheduled to play again until next month in Madrid, then at the Italian Open before moving on the Paris for the year's second Grand Slam, the French Open.

Williams has talked frequently this week of her desire to add another title at Roland Garros - she won her only French crown in 2002 - to her Hall-of-Fame resume of 13 major championships. She also talked about moving to Paris.

The Family Circle Cup victory was a great start to her clay-court season.

Williams also was happy to honor the 40th anniversary of the Family Circle tournament and the legacy of women's tennis. The tournament named its stadium court for tennis great and pioneer Billie Jean King, who was on court during Williams' trophy ceremony.

King and members of the Original 9 players, who defied the tennis establishment to form the first women's tour and fight for better prize money, were saluted during the weekend

Williams earned $115,000 for the victory, a far cry from the first Family Circle in 1973 that offered a then-unheard of $100,000 in total prize money.

''I want to thank, Billie,'' Williams said. ''Without her, I don't know if any of us would be here.''

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