ISTANBUL, Turkey (AFP) — Serena Williams completed her sensational 2012 comeback by easing to a 6-4, 6-3 win over Maria Sharapova for a third WTA Championships title yesterday.
The 31-year-old's victory came at the end of a spectacular year in which she also collected the Wimbledon, Olympic and US Open titles.
"Now I have won I can be honest -- I really wanted to win this title, and I put pressure on myself (to do so)," said Williams, whose career head-to-head record over Sharapova now stands at 10-2.
"I wanted it so bad, I didn't want to say it. I had such a good year, it really was important to me to win, and this title in particular.
"Maria played really well and she's improved so much, which is amazing for a player of her stature and calibre. But I played solid, and in the last game of the match I played really well."
Williams, who has battled back to the top of her game after battling injury and a life-threatening illness, said 2012 was just as good as 2002 and 2003 when she completed the "Serena Slam" of all four Grand Slams.
"It's awesome. To come back after being in the hospital, I feel so happy whether I win or lose," said the American veteran.
French Open champion Sharapova praised Williams, a player she hasn't beaten for over eight years.
"She had another great serving day against me — I don't think I even had a break point," said the Russian.
The third-seeded Williams's weight of shot, reliability of serve, and undiminished motivation enabled her to apply constant pressure.
As early as the fifth game, when she broke Sharapova's serve for the first time, she looked the likely winner.
Williams also saved her best performance of the week for Sharapova and history may have played a part in that.
Since the year in which a 17-year-old Sharapova shocked Serena in the 2004 Wimbledon final, the Russian has not been able to repeat the win in eight attempts. After breaking for 3-2, consolidating for 4-2, and holding on to that advantage to close out the first set, she was relentless.
At least it did not take Sharapova long to do better than last time when she managed just one game in the Olympics final.