Serena Williams secured a 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over Madison Keys in an all-American women’s singles final at the Italian Open in Rome on Sunday, earning her first title in nine months.

Serena Williams Ends 9-Month Title Drought At Italian Open

Williams’ previous title came in Cincinnati last August, just one month before her attempt at a calendar-year Grand Slam ended with a semifinal loss to Italian Roberta Vinci at the U.S. Open.

“It feels great,” Williams, 34, said, pointing out that she’s only played four tournaments since Cincinnati. “So it’s not like I was playing every week. So that’s kind of how I look at it. But it feels great to win a title, especially on clay.”

This was Williams’ fourth Italian Open title. The French Open begins next week.


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“I’m feeling pretty fit. So I’m looking forward to it,” said Williams, who will be attempting to defend her title at Roland Garros. “I’m going to definitely go in there and feel more calm and (not) feel stress to have to win.”

Williams addressed the crowd in Italian during the post-game trophy ceremony, then took a selfie in which she posed with the trophy.

It was the first time two American women have met in a final on clay since Serena beat older sister Venus in the 2002 French Open.

When the two shook hands at the net following the match, Williams told No. 24 Keys that she had the potential to someday become No. 1.

“Too bad what she says doesn’t just happen,” Keys, 21, said. “But it’s always great to hear that from her. … Hearing that is definitely something that makes me just work harder.”

The last all-American final in Rome was in 1970, when Billie Jean King beat Julie Heldman.

On the men’s side, Andy Murray defeated top-ranked Novak Djokovic in a rematch of last week’s Madrid Open final.

This was Williams’ 70th overall career title.

Keys made it to the Australian Open semifinals and the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year.

Keys broke Serena at love in the opening game of the match and hit six aces in her opening two service games to take a 3-1 lead.

However, Williams became more aggressive, and Keys recorded two double faults to hand the break back, making it 3-3.

Williams then gained control in the tiebreaker with a sharp cross-court forehand that Keys simply couldn’t return and finally closed it out on her first set point with a big serve out wide that Keys returned long.

Serena hit only 13 winners compared to Keys’ 17 but had less unforced errors: 24 against 32, and converted five of her six break-point opportunities.

Williams improved to 16-0 against Americans since losing to older sister Venus in the Montreal semifinals in 2014.

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 11:  Serena Williams of the United States returns a shot to Roberta Vinci of Italy during their Women’s Singles Semifinals match on Day Twelve of the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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