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On this day in 2015: Serena Williams wins 20th grand slam title at Roland Garros

Serena Williams lifted the title in Paris in 2015 (Adam Davy/PA)
Serena Williams lifted the title in Paris in 2015 (Adam Davy/PA)

Serena Williams overcame illness to win her 20th grand slam title nine years ago with victory over Lucie Safarova in the French Open final.

The American, who won her first major 16 years previously, beat Czech Safarova 6-3 6-7 (2) 6-2 in a dramatic showdown at Roland Garros.

Williams, 33 at the time, was the clear favourite as the world number one and reigning US Open and Australian Open champion, but she had been struggling with illness prior to the final and revealed she almost withdrew from the match.

And she was then given a fright by Safarova, who was playing in her first grand slam final in the French capital.

Williams won the first set 6-3 and looked to be heading for a routine victory when she led 4-1 in the second. However, the left-handed Safarova battled back to force a second-set tie break, which she won comprehensively.

A major shock was on the cards when Safarova led 2-0 in the decider, only for Williams to show her prowess by winning six successive games to claim a third French Open title.

Williams said after the match: “Is it the most difficult grand slam I’ve ever won? For sure.

“When you have the flu, your whole body aches. That’s kind of what I have been dealing with. Even now I just really don’t have any energy and I just want to go to bed. It’s been a nightmare 48 hours.”

She added: “I talked to all the doctors here and the physios here. I even told the physio, ‘I’m not sure I’m going to be able to play because this is just not looking good’.”

It was her 20th grand slam singles title, which left her two behind Steffi Graf and four adrift of Margaret Court.

Serena Williams waved goodbye to tennis in 2022
Serena Williams waved goodbye to tennis in 2022 (John Minchillo/AP)

Williams went on to take her tally to 23 but history continued to elude her as she lost her last four grand slam finals, two at Wimbledon and two in the US Open.

In August 2022, Williams announced her impending “evolution” away from professional tennis and played her final match at the 2022 US Open.

She gave birth to her second daughter, Adira, last August.