• Serena Williams beat Lucie Safarova 6-3 6-7 (2/7) 6-2 to win her third French Open title at Roland Garros in Paris
  • American No 1 seed was pushed hard by her Czech opponent, who was appearing in her first Grand Slam final 

Beyond the health mysteries and swearing controversies it is impossible to argue with the achievements of the extraordinary Serena Williams.

Surfing on a tide of industrial language and self-recrimination, she spurred herself on to fight off the brave challenge of Lucie Safarova and claim the French Open title with a 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-2 victory, her 20th Grand Slam win.

Repeatedly dropping the F-bomb, admittedly in her own direction, she came back from 2-0 down in the deciding set to win for the third time at Roland Garros.

Serena Williams receives the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen trophy after her victory over Lucie Safarova in the French Open final in Paris 
Serena Williams receives the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen trophy after her victory over Lucie Safarova in the French Open final in Paris
Williams took the trophy with her to in front of the Eiffel Tower later on Saturday evening to pose with the silverware 
Williams took the trophy with her to in front of the Eiffel Tower later on Saturday evening to pose with the silverware
Williams claimed her 20th Grand Slam singles title with her win over Safarova in the French capital
Williams claimed her 20th Grand Slam singles title with her win over Safarova in the French capital
Williams inspects the latest addition to her extensive trophy collection as she claimed the French Open title for the third time
Williams inspects the latest addition to her extensive trophy collection as she claimed the French Open title for the third time
Serena Williams celebrates after winning the French Open final, the 20th Grand Slam singles title of her career
Serena Williams celebrates after winning the French Open final, the 20th Grand Slam singles title of her career
Williams celebrates after winning a point during the final at Roland Garros. The American won 6-3 6-7 (2/7) 6-2 in just over two hours
Williams celebrates after winning a point during the final at Roland Garros. The American won 6-3 6-7 (2/7) 6-2 in just over two hours
Williams celebrates after seeing another point go in her favour during the opening set
Williams celebrates after seeing another point go in her favour during the opening set

Not until after the fifth game of the deciding set did French umpire Emmanuel Joseph give her a code violation for her audible obscenities, but then it was not the first time we have seen top players treated leniently in the final here.

Twelve months ago Kader Nouni spent more than two hours ignoring Maria Sharapova’s repeated stalling of Simona Halep before giving her a warning, and there was something of a parallel.

Williams stretches to play a backhand during the first set of the final in Paris. The 33-year-old soon stamped her authority on the contest
Williams stretches to play a backhand during the first set of the final in Paris. The 33-year-old soon stamped her authority on the contest
Williams uses a towel packed with ice to cool down during a break between games as temperatures soared in the French capital
Williams uses a towel packed with ice to cool down during a break between games as temperatures soared in the French capital
Safarova reflects on a lost point during the opening set of the contest at Roland Garros 
Safarova reflects on a lost point during the opening set of the contest at Roland Garros
The Czech player rallied during the second set, breaking Williams on two occasions to give herself hope of a surprise victory
The Czech player rallied during the second set, breaking Williams on two occasions to give herself hope of a surprise victory
Williams, who had previously claimed the French Open title in 2002 and 2013, celebrates with a clenched fist after securing a point
Williams, who had previously claimed the French Open title in 2002 and 2013, celebrates with a clenched fist after securing a point

She is that combination of immense physical talent and extraordinary desire to win, and remains far ahead of the field.

This was her third Grand Slam title in succession and by the end of Wimbledon she could hold all four. While it is a testament to her remarkable abilities, that potential scenario also raises questions about the quality of the opposition, given her virus and that she will be 34 in September.

As she had fallen behind a set in four previous rounds before coming back to win, there may have been alarm bells when she took the first set.

Williams serves against a backdrop of packed stands and deep blue skies at Roland Garros
Williams serves against a backdrop of packed stands and deep blue skies at Roland Garros
Williams and Safarova line up either side of the net for the traditional pre-match photograph and coin toss ahead of the final in Paris 
Williams and Safarova line up either side of the net for the traditional pre-match photograph and coin toss ahead of the final in Paris

She was far the steadier in taking the tiebreak, 7-2, and by now the Williams mouth was in full flow, at one point telling herself ‘You f***ing suck’.

The younger sibling knows what she has to do to extract maximum performance and it seemed to work.

Safarova went 2-0 up in the deciding set but then tightened up and the American romped away with the last six games.

Speaking in French at the presentation ceremony, someone called out from the crowd, asking if she would marry them. ‘Not now,’ Serena replied. She obviously has more pressing things to do and that might involve sweeping the majors in 2015.

Williams said it had been a ‘nightmare 48 hours’ and insisted she was close to pulling out.

‘I didn’t leave bed until four or five o’clock yesterday, I was really bad last night. I hit a bit this morning and hit them pretty well. After that I just went out to play the match.’

She did not apologise for her language but said: ‘I got so frustrated, I was giving the match to her. I had to pull it together.’

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