In her first tournament since dropping out of Wimbledon with apparent equilibrium issues, top-ranked Serena Williams won her WTA-leading fourth title of the year, beating third-seeded Angelique Kerber 7-6 (1), 6-3 on Sunday in Bank of the West Classic.
Kerber, 0-4 in finals this season, won five straight games to go up 5-1 and was serving for the first set at 5-2. Williams saved two set points and went to win five games in a row.
“I blinked my eye and I was down 1-5,” Williams said. “Angelique was playing well and I thought ‘What’s going on?’ I tried to relax, not think about anything and just do the right thing.”
The eighth-ranked Kerber forced a tiebreaker, but Williams took the first five points.
“It’s a good thing that it happened,” Williams said. “When I’m not playing great I know I can make some kind of comeback.”
Williams didn’t play well in any of the first sets this week but always found a way to win.
“I’ve been training hard all year and hopefully that pays off, especially after Wimbledon,” Williams said. “I stayed positive here. This shows I’m moving in the right direction.”
Questions were raised after she retired from a doubles match with sister Venus at Wimbledon in June. A viral infection affected her equilibrium.
She answered those questions with a vague: “Every week is a new week and all I can do is try and improve. For me it’s all mental: being there, being positive and being good to myself.”
Williams will be No. 1 for the 200th week in her career when the rankings are announced Monday. She is fifth on the career list, nine weeks behind fourth-place Martina Hingis.
“I feel like I’m just me. I don’t feel any different from anyone else on this planet,” Williams said. “To be that of as that is pretty awesome.”
Williams extended her winning streak to 13 matches in winning her third title at Stanford in four years.
“It just says how much I love to play here,” she said.
Williams has not lost to a top-10 player this season. She improved to 17-2 overall in matches played at Stanford. She’s 30-5 on the season and 662-117 for her career. Williams is 61-17 in finals.
Williams has not played well at Grand Slam events this year, failing to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.