Paris • As Maria Sharapova celebrated her return to the French Open final, she let loose one last scream — this one a happy holler.
Serena Williams won more quietly and quickly, and she’ll play Sharapova for the title Saturday.
Sharapova, the defending champion, overcame 11 double-faults to win a semifinal shriekfest against Victoria Azarenka, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. Williams then advanced to her first French Open final since 2002 by dispatching Sara Errani 6-0, 6-1 in 46 minutes of astounding power and precision.
Williams’ win was the most lopsided women’s semifinal at Roland Garros since 1984, when Chris Evert beat Camille Benjamin 6-0, 6-0.
Sharapova beat Errani in the final last year to complete a career Grand Slam, but she faces a tougher test this time. She’s 2-13 against Williams, who has been on a mission after more than a decade of disappointment in Paris.
"Obviously whatever I did in the past hasn’t worked," Sharapova said. "So I’ll have to try to do something different and hopefully it will."
The top-ranked Williams, a 15-time Grand Slam champion, won her only Roland Garros title 11 years ago by beating her sister Venus in the final.
"I’m very happy to be back in the French Open final 11 years later," Williams told the crowd in French. "I’m still here 11 years later. It’s so wonderful for me."
While Williams easily won her semifinal, Sharapova advanced past Azarenka with a clamor. The two most notorious grunters in tennis wailed on nearly every swing, matching pitch and volume as they swapped powerful shots from the baseline. They sounded as if they were pushing a stalled Peugeot across lanes of traffic in the Arc de Triomphe.
"Come on, Monica," a spectator yelled at Sharapova, referring to one of the game’s great grunters, Monica Seles.
The aggressive swings resulted in a seesaw semifinal. Sharapova whacked 12 aces but was erratic with her second serve, and her groundstrokes were also unpredictable.Next Page >
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