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Sports

French Open: Williams wins 20th Grand Slam title

On the back of illness and exhaustion, top-ranked Serena Williams won her 20th Grand Slam title with a three-set victory over Lucie Safarova at Roland Garros on Saturday. It's her third French Open title.

Serena Williams has won her 20th Grand Slam title with a 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 win over Lucie Safarova at Roland Garros on Saturday. The 33-year old American has now won the French Open title three times and it leaves her two titles short of German Steffi Graf's record of 22 Grand Slam championships.

Williams overcame illness in her semifinal on Thursday and skipped practice and media duties on Friday. Safarova, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, was playing in the final of a major for the first time. Whilst Williams was looking to win her third consecutive Grand Slam title.

The top-ranked American showed no signs of her recurring illness as she clinched the first set in just 38 minutes. Williams, who has 66 career titles, broke Safarova in the fourth game to lead 3-1. Safarova then saved one set point on serve in the eighth game with a powerful forehand winner, but Williams was able to serve out the set in the next game.

Lucie Safarova and Serena Williams

"I can hold my head high," said Lucie Safarova

Safarova never gave up

Safarova, who is also through to the women's doubles final - looking to become the first woman to win the French Open double since Mary Pierce in 2000, looked beaten in the second set. Williams stormed to a 4-1 lead, but the 13th seed fought back dramatically. Williams double-faulted at the end of the sixth and eighth games to give Safarova hope.

With the score 5-5, Williams broke Safarova and served for the match. But the 13th-seeded Czech player broke straight back to force a tiebreaker, which Safarova dominated comfortably. Williams had collected 40 unforced errors and looked drained as she walked slowly to her bench for drinks breaks.

After receiving an obscenity warning from the chair umpire she held serve to leave the score at 3-2 in the final deciding set. Williams showed her incredible talent as she broke Safarova to lead 4-2 with serve - even taking a left-handed shot along the way. With the score at 5-2, Safarova served to keep the match alive, but Williams broke once again to clinch the historic win.

"I played very well and she was a magnificent opponent for me," Williams said on court after the game. "She was very aggressive and I was a bit nervous at a set and a break up. It's special for me because I don't always play well here (in Paris), but I am so pleased to win my 20th Grand Slam here."

apc/rd (AP, afp)