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PARIS -- Two hours before her French Open final, Serena Williams practiced on center court, the stands deserted as she whacked one winner after another to the distant sounds of a brass band playing on the plaza.
When the music stopped, the seats filled and the match began, Williams went on defense, relentlessly chasing down one shot after another to defeat familiar foil Maria Sharapova. With a 6-4, 6-4 victory, the No. 1-ranked Williams won her first French Open championship since 2002.
"Eleven years," Williams said in French during the trophy ceremony. "I think it's unbelievable. Now I have 16 Grand Slam titles. It's difficult for me to speak because I'm so excited."
Then the national anthem played for the first American singles champion at Roland Garros since Williams' previous title.
Williams whacked 10 aces, including three in the final game, and the last came on match point at 123 mph - her hardest serve of the day. She then sank to her knees, screamed at the sky and buried her face in the clay.