At long last, a champion again.
After blood clots in her lugs and two foot operations threatened her career for nearly a year, Williams claimed her first tournament title since returning with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Marion Bartoli in the Bank of the West Classic final Sunday.
"Coming back and hearing the claps when I walk out there are moments that I truly missed," Williams said. "It's so awesome to be back and to be a part of those moments. Not everyone can be a sports, I don't know if 'star' sounds full of myself, but I've worked hard for that title.
"So, yes, I say it and I take pride in it."
The 13-time major champion overcame two breaks in the first set to rally for a dominating finish. She went ahead 5-0 in the second and left no doubt.
The victory was even sweeter because the ninth-ranked Bartoli beat the former world No. 1 in straight sets in the fourth round at Wimbledon this year. The finals appearance was the first for Williams since winning at the All England Club in 2010 and her best showing this year.
Williams also became the first American woman to win on home soil since she won the 2008 U.S. Open. While she entered the tournament unseeded and ranked 169th, the victory will vault Williams into the top 80.
"I hated those triple digits," she said, chuckling. "Now I've got to get to single digits."
FARMERS CLASSIC: In Los Angeles, Latvia's Ernests Gulbis rallied past top-seeded Mardy Fish 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 for his second career ATP tour title.
Gulbis entered the tournament on a five-match losing streak, but the 22-year-old beat Xavier Malisse and former champ Juan Martin Del Potro before outlasting Fish, the top-ranked American and world No. 9, in a 2-hour, 43-minute final.
CITI OPEN: In College Park, Md., second-seeded Nadia Petrova beat top-seeded Shahar Peer 7-5, 6-2 to win the inaugural event.
It's the 10th career WTA title for Petrova and her first since 2008 at Quebec City.
SWISS OPEN: In Gstaad, Switzerland, Marcel Granollers won his first title in three years, beating Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 on clay in an all-Spanish final.
The only other time Granollers won on the ATP tour was in 2008 in Houston.
CROATIA OPEN: In Umag, Croatia, Aleksandr Dolgopolov won his first ATP title, defeating home favorite Marin Cilic 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.