By Stephanie Neppl
(April 7, 2013) CHARLESTON, SC – For the second year in a row, Serena Williams is queen of the green clay. In the first three-set final since Serena beat Vera Zvonareva in 2008, the world No. 1 came back from a set down to win her third title in Charleston 3-6 6-0 6-2 over Jelena Jankovic.
On a perfectly sunny Sunday, Williams and Jankovic took the court for the first clay court match since 2010, which the Serb won in a third set tie-breaker.
On Sunday, both women showed the crowd why their head to head was 5-4 and played a match full of great rallies and clay court sliding. Williams had several break points on both of Jankovic’s first two service games but failed to capitalize in a 10-minute game. The next game, Jankovic broke Williams at love and the momentum was firmly in her favor. She held, then broke again to take the first set 6-3.
Williams broke immediately at the start of set two and reeled off six games in a row to bagel her opponent for the first time in their 10 matches. Williams broke early again in the third and was able to break again and serve out the match to win her 49th career title.
Coming off a win in Miami and now Charleston, Williams said she never goes into a tournament expecting to lose.
” I just expect to do the best I can,” she said. “If that meant that I won, then that’s great and if it meant that I lost but I played a good match, then I have to learn to be okay with that.”
Before she heads onto the red clay, Williams said she was keen to go home for a bit and didn’t plan any celebration other than sleeping in her own bed. “The last three weeks have been intense. I don’t really celebrate so much anymore,” she said.
Williams’ win was her third title of 2013, and she is expected to hold on to the No. 1 ranking at least through May 6, according to the WTA.
Jankovic, who had been on a 10-match winning streak on clay and said she thought she’d had a great week. “I think I did a great job. I fought very well. I played some good tennis throughout the week, and you know, today playing Serena was great, too. It’s been a while since I played against her, so it’s always fun to play against a champion like her.”
The Serbian said there is a reason why Serena is the world’s top ranked player and said she felt she’d given her best on the court. “She is serving very well and she hits the ball harder than anyone else. Physically she is the strongest out there.”
The doubles title was won by Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic and Kristina Mladenovic who defeated Andrea Hlavackova and Liezel Huber 6‑3, 7‑6 (6).
Stephanie Neppl was covering the Family Circle Cup for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. She has worked as Social Media Manager for Tennis Auckland’s ATP and WTA tournaments. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.