Serena Williams celebrates with the ball boys and ball girls after winning the Family Circle Cup against Jelena Jankovic in Charleston, S.C., Sunday.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Serena Williams rallied past Jelena Jankovic 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 on Sunday to win her 15th straight match and second consecutive title at the Family Circle Cup.
It was the second straight tournament where the top-ranked Williams dropped the opening set in the final before digging in for victory. A week ago, she lost 6-4 to Maria Sharapova and then won 12 of the next 15 games to win the Sony Open.
This time, Williams had her serve broken twice and lost her first set of the match. Things turned at the start of the second set with a testy exchange between the competitors as Williams complained about Jankovic serving before she was ready. Williams used the dispute to fire up her play, winning six straight games and 12 of the final 14.
Williams earned $125,000 for her third Family Circle Cup crown, also winning here in 2008 and 2012.
She had hoped last year’s clay-court victory on Billie Jean King Court would spur a big run to a second French Open crown. Instead, Williams was stunningly knocked out at Roland Garros in the opening round by then 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano.
“This year, my goal is to win a match at the French Open,” she joked after the match.
Williams should be favored whenever she plays, especially when provoked like it looked against Jankovic.
The 28-year-old former No. 1 served to open the second set while Williams held her racquet in front to signal she wasn’t ready. During the next changeover, Jankovic asked chair umpire Kader Nouni how long she needed to wait before serving.
“Until I’m ready,” Williams shot back.
The exchange seemed to fire up the 31-year-old Willams, who had looked sluggish and off her game in losing the first set. She broke Jankovic to start the second set, then won her service game at love to start things rolling.
Before Jankovic could regain her footing, Williams rolled to a 6-0 victory.
Jankovic said the dispute took away her focus.
“I gave her wins. I let her back in the match,” Jankovic said. “That was my mistake.”
Jankovic led 1-0 in the third set, but Williams took the next three games to regain control.
Williams pounded in a 110 mph serve that drove Jankovic wide and then put away the ball near the net to take the match.
Any hard feelings didn’t seem to last.
Jankovic met Williams with a big smile at the net as the two exchanged good wishes. When the stadium announcer asked the crowd to acknowledge Jankovic’s strong play as she left, Williams joined fans in applauding.
For Williams, it was her 49th career singles title, moving within four of Monica Seles for ninth place on the WTA’s all-time list. It wasn’t the easiest run to the top, though. Midweek rain wiped out much of Thursday’s schedule, meaning Williams had to win twice on Friday to make to the semifinals.
Once there, Williams had to face big sister Venus and responded with a 6-1, 6-2 victory, the most one-sided match in the siblings’ long rivalry.
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