Serena Williams, having easily disposed of both Maria Sharapova and Sabine Lisicki in Stanford earlier this week, beat 3rd seed Marion Bartoli today in the final, and won her first Bank of the West Classic title.
The first set was very competitive. Bartoli, serving exceptionally well, got an early break, and had several chances to get a second break when Williams served at 2-4. But Williams held in that long, tense game, and went on to break Bartoli when she served for the first set at 5-4. That break of serve would be a turning point, with Williams taking the first set 7-5, then going up 5-0 in the second. Bartoli's service game became more tentative, and she also had some type of issue with her hand, which just served to make matters worse for the Frenchwoman.
Williams, by the way, hit eleven aces in the final. Her net game was solid, and she was able to take control against the only real competition she faced all week. We won't see her again until she competes for the Rogers Cup next month, but there is no reason to believe she will do anything but improve during the next several weeks. Those who predicted that Williams could come back after her illness but not be dominant might want to re-think this issue.
The Stanford title is Williams' 38th. It's also the first regular tour event she has won since she took the Charleston title in 2008. The last championship that Williams won was the 2010 Wimbledon title. It was not long after her Wimbledon victory that she sustained a foot injury, which led to her having two surgeries, a hematoma and a pulmonary embolism. Williams was able to return to Wimbledon this year, but lost to Bartoli in the round of 16.