Serena Williams beats Jelena Jankovic for third U.S. Open title

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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NEW YORK - Serena Williams flung her racket straight up and jumped for joy, hopping and skipping and screaming and generally looking like someone who had just won her first U.S. Open title or earned her debut at No. 1.
It sure had been a while, though.
Displaying the talent and tenacity that allowed her to dominate tennis earlier in the decade, Williams outlasted Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 7-5 Sunday night in a thrill-a-minute match chock full of marvellous strokes and momentum swings to win her third U.S. Open championship and ninth Grand Slam title.
"Every one is so exciting, believe me," Williams said. "This is cool because I'm at No. 9. I'm pushing the doors closer to double digits, which of course I want to get to."
And there was this "added bonus," as Williams termed it: She returns to the top of the rankings.
"I think this title meant more to Serena than any title she's ever won," her father and coach, Richard Williams said.
As the women met at the net when it ended, Williams felt compelled to say to Jankovic, "I'm sorry I got so excited."
No apology necessary.
Four times a single point from heading to a third set, Williams was simply relentless. She took the final four games, and 13 of the last 19 points.
"I felt I had her. I had her, because she was really tired at the end of the second set," Jankovic said. "Who knows what would have happened if I had got into a third set? I probably would have had the upper hand. But who knows?"
Instead, Williams took the title without dropping a set. The closest she came to losing one? In the quarter-finals, when she beat older sister Venus in two tiebreakers.
On this night, Venus was in the guest box, cheering for Kid Sis.
"Her desire is unbelievable," Richard Williams said. "I describe her as being a combination of a pit bull dog, a young Mike Tyson and an alligator."
It was his youngest daughter's first triumph at Flushing Meadows since 2002, and it guaranteed that the American will lead the rankings Monday for the first time since a 57-week run ended in August 2003 - the longest gap between stints at No. 1 for a woman.
"I feel," the 26-year-old Williams said, "like I have a new career."
Williams' previous Grand Slam title came in January 2007, at the Australian Open.
For Jankovic, it was her first Grand Slam final anywhere, and she was having the time of her life. She smiled even after losing points, and she kept a close eye on the overhead video boards, either to watch replays or to check out which celebrities were in the audience.
"They should turn it off, because I keep looking," the Serb said. "You see your big face up there and you can't help but look up."
Jankovic was ranked No. 1 for one week last month and would have returned there by winning a title match that was postponed from Saturday night because of Tropical Storm Hanna. During the postmatch ceremony, Jankovic charmed the crowd, asking how much her runner-up check was worth (for the record: US$750,000). Later, she said the drama of her matches and her fun-loving style of play meant she deserved an Oscar instead of a silver dish.
As good as the second-seeded Jankovic is at retrieving balls and extending points, Williams can do that with the best of them, too. That led to point after point lasting more than a dozen shots as both women scurried around Arthur Ashe Stadium, their sneakers squeaking loudly.
But the difference in strength was clear: Repeatedly after those lengthy exchanges, Jankovic was left shaking her racket hand, trying to lessen the sting. On the match's first point, Williams drove a backhand winner with such force, such ferocity, that she sent one of her earrings flying.
The fourth-seeded Williams finished with 44 winners, 29 more than Jankovic, and smacked serves at up to 120 m.p.h., a 14 m.p.h. edge over her opponent's fastest.

Organizations: Australian Open

Geographic location: U.S., NEW YORK, Arthur Ashe Stadium

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