Wins 1st clay court title since 2002
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Serena Williams captured the Family Circle Cup title Sunday, defeating Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 for her first clay court title since the 2002 French Open.
Williams’ third title of the year was expected to lift her to No. 6 in the rankings. She won earlier in Bangalore and Miami. She is 19-1 in matches this year after winning her 31st career title on the green clay here on a breezy, overcast afternoon.
“I feel like I have some momentum behind me and I just want to keep going,” said the fifth-seeded Williams, who won $197,000 and a crystal cup at the $1.3 million tournament. “I definitely look at everyone as my clay court competition.”
Unlike earlier matches at the Family Circle, Williams started strong, winning the first set and scattering 10 aces during the match.
“I just wanted to get that first set under my belt, and thank God I did because I lost the second,” said Williams, who anticipated long day against the ninth-seeded Russian. “I’ve played her a few times, so I really know her game and she’s a real fighter and she never stops.”
Williams improved to 5-1 against Zvonareva, who should rise to No. 14 in the rankings by making the finals.
In the third set, Zvonareva broke Williams in the third game — the final point on Williams’ second double-fault of the day.
But Williams broke back in the next game, then held serve at love in the next.
“She never made a mistake when I was up,” Zvonareva said. “I think I could have done a little better job about holding my serve, which I wasn’t able to do.”
Williams then broke Zvonareva a second time, taking advantage of two consecutive double-faults.
“She always puts pressure on you, so you always have to go for a bigger serve and eventually your serve percentage goes down,” said Zvonareva, who ended with eight double-faults. “I accepted I would have some double-faults today and I knew it was going to happen when I was coming into the match. It’s just too bad to have two of them in a row.”
It was Williams’ fifth appearance in Charleston, but her first title. She was runner-up to Justine Henin in 2003.