Serena Williams beats Jelana Jankovic in South Carolina final

Serena had defeated younger sister Venus 6-1, 6-2 in 54 minutes in semi-final

Serena Williams hits a backhand shot during a semifinal match against her sister Venus Williams at the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament in Charleston, S.C., Saturday, April 6, 2013. Serena won 6-1, 6-2. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)

Serena Williams hits a backhand shot during a semifinal match against her sister Venus Williams at the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament in Charleston, S.C., Saturday, April 6, 2013. Serena won 6-1, 6-2. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)

Mon, Apr 8, 2013, 12:33

Serena Williams bounced back from a set down to defeat former top ranked Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 3-6 6-0 6-2 and win her third Family Circle Cup title in South Carolina last night.

The victory was Williams’ 49th in WTA play. Only nine players have won 50 or more WTA titles.

After dropping the first set in 45 minutes, Williams cruised through the next two, winning 12 of the final 14 games for her second consecutive title at Charleston. She also won in 2008.

On Saturday, the first match between Serena and her sister Venus in nearly four years drew the largest crowd in the event’s history, with 9,538 fans on hand on Saturday to watch Serena defeat her older sister, 6-1, 6-2, in a semi-final that lasted just 54 minutes.

Serena, a 15-time Grand Slam singles champion, has now won 14 of their 24 meetings.

Venus, who has won seven Grand Slam singles titles, got off to an imposing start, cracking a backhand return winner off Serena’s second serve on the first point of the match.

But Serena served effectively from there on, making 82 per cent of her first serves. And though she never seemed to be hitting with full power, she kept Venus off-balance with a surprising range of high, sometimes looping ground strokes that Venus was never quite able to comfortably attack.

Underdog Venus
Despite the crowd’s clear inclination toward Venus, the underdog, Serena continued to dominate, taking the first set in 22 minutes.

After Venus’ forehand flew long on the first match point, there was a quick but sympathetic exchange at the net. The disparity in their rankings – Serena is number one, Venus number 24 – was the biggest in their professional meetings since their first, at the 1998 Australian Open, when Venus, then 17, was ranked 16th and 16-year-old Serena was 63rd.

Personal dynamics have often seemed to make matches between the sisters uncomfortable, but the physical toll of the day before seemed to most affect Saturday’s match. Each had been forced to play twice Friday after heavy rain washed out several matches Thursday.

Serena acknowledged that would have been harder on Venus, who has been dealing with lingering back pain as well as Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.

“She’ll never admit it, ever, but I don’t think she was 100 per cent,” Serena said. “But you will never get that out of her. And quite frankly, three matches for her is much tougher than three matches for me. And so, you know, it’s definitely not easy because I’m struggling, and I can’t imagine what she must be feeling.”

Although she lost quickly, Venus put a positive spin on her run to the semi-finals, as well as the effect she and Serena had made together over the past 15 years. Asked what the legacy of the sisters’ rivalry would be, Venus said:

“I think that Serena and I will be remembered as women who changed the sport, and for us just to be able to achieve something like that in our lifetimes is beyond what we ever dreamed of achieving on the court.

“So I think at the end, that’s what we will cherish.”