Serena: Best is yet to come
Serena Williams completed a year of domination by winning the French Open - beating Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-4 - and then declared her best is still to come.
The 31-year-old won her second title at Roland Garros 11 years after her first. Williams has now won 31 straight matches and 74 from 77 in singles since her shock loss in the first round here last year against Virginie Razzano, a run that has brought her three grand slam titles and an Olympic gold medal.
At an age where many tennis players have called it a day, Williams is playing better than ever. She said: "I definitely want to go out at my peak. That's my goal. But have I peaked yet? I'm really relaxed. I really enjoy every moment that I'm out there. I always said that I felt like I have never played my best tennis."
Williams added: "I have said that for years, that I feel like I can always do better and play better and I have always wanted to reach that level. Maybe I'm just trying to get there. I really believe age is a number at this point, because I have never felt so fit. I feel great. I look great."
This year's run at Roland Garros, where she has dropped only one set and looked the champion elect throughout, could not have been a greater contrast from 12 months ago, when she left the grounds distraught at her early exit.
She has certainly responded in the right way, though, and she said: "I'm still a little bit upset about that loss last year, but it's all about how you recover. I think I've always said a champion isn't about how much they win but it's about how they recover from their downs, whether it's an injury or whether it's a loss."
Sharapova put up a sterling defence of her title, coming out firing, and she could have been 3-0 up but let a 40-15 lead slip on her own serve. Williams reeled off four games in a row and, although Sharapova levelled at 4-4, she dropped serve again immediately and with that went the set.
The pair were trading huge groundstrokes from the back of the court and playing at a very high level, but it was always Williams who had the edge. She broke again in the third game of the second set and Sharapova could not get anywhere near the phenomenal Williams serve, with the world number one clinching victory with her third ace of the final game.
Having seen her title wrested from her, Sharapova vowed to use it as motivation, saying: "You lost and you can be really down about it, and I am because I'm a competitor and I'm a fighter and I don't train to lose. Nobody does.
"But that's the feeling that ultimately will make you work harder and make you think a little bit. It gives you more determination. So I hope that that's what I take away from the match."