At a time when the world is drastically different from the norm, there is something rather comforting about the familiarity of Serena Williams remaining a global phenomenon.

While the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on how we go about our normal lives, some things do not change and Williams' enduring quality is proof of that.

The American great has 23 grand slam singles titles, the most in the Open Era and one shy of Margaret Court's overall record.

It began, professionally, on this day a remarkable 23 years ago when Williams defeated Elena Likhovtseva at the Ameritech Cup Chicago for her first main-draw win on the WTA Tour.

At that same tournament, Williams went on to defeat stellar names Mary Pierce and Monica Seles before falling to the brilliant Lindsay Davenport in the semi-finals.

A stunning period of dominance has followed in two decades since and below we take a look at some of the best numbers behind a genuine legend.

73 - Williams has won 73 WTA singles titles so far. Her first was in Paris in 1999, with her most recent coming in Auckland in January 2020.

33 - The 37-year-old has reached an incredible 33 grand slam singles finals, losing just 10 of those.

5 - Williams has finished the year ranked as world number one five times, in 2002, 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

39 - Including 14 in doubles and two in mixed doubles, Williams has won 39 major titles - the joint-third highest total since the Open Era began.

1 - Williams is the only player, male or female, to have completed a Golden Slam in both singles and doubles competitions. As well as triumphing at every slam and the Olympics as a singles competitor, Serena has achieved the same feat alongside sister Venus in doubles.

7 - Williams has seven titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, with six more at the US Open, and three at Roland Garros.

319 - Having spent 319 weeks as world number one, Williams is third behind Martina Navratilova (332) and Steffi Graf (377).

2 - She has held all four grand slam trophies on two occasions - in 2002-03 and 2014-15.

98 - In total, Williams has appeared in 98 singles finals on the WTA circuit.

186 - Williams spent 186 weeks as world number one between February 2013 and September 2016, equal with Graf's record from August 1987 to March 1991.

The swift response to concerns of match-fixing at the French Open and the ongoing investigation represent signs of progress in protecting the integrity of tennis, according to the CEO of the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS).

Reports of irregular bets around a women's doubles match at Roland Garros surfaced this month. An investigation is ongoing, the ICSS says, led by the Paris prosecutor's office.

While such a crime at a grand slam is "quite rare and difficult to do", ICSS chief executive Massimiliano Montanari recognises tennis is "one of the most vulnerable sports from a match-fixing perspective".

The ICSS has, however, been encouraged by the reaction to the Paris allegations.

"We finally see the putting into practice of a system and mechanism to tackle corruption in sport, in this case tennis," Montanari told Stats Perform News.

"We are seeing a very active Tennis Integrity Unit, recently reformed and in phase of establishment as an independent legal entity to investigate and sanction but also educate on integrity matters.

"We see a prompt action of a public prosecutor which brings a possible case of match-fixing from the sport to the criminal dimension."

But Montanari recognises there is still work to do, adding: "We need to enhance capacities both within sport organisations and law enforcement to address such forms of crimes and eliminate forever the perception that match-fixing is a victimless crime.

"Because if sport becomes a fiction, we will lose its unique societal and educational capacity with tragic consequences on the values of our youth and of the future generations."

Rafael Nadal has been awarded Spain's highest sporting honour after his 13th French Open triumph and 20th grand slam title.

The 34-year-old scooped another Roland Garros crown with a straight-sets demolition of world number one Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

It moved Nadal level with Roger Federer at the top of the list of the most prolific men's singles champions in the grand slams.

Now the Spanish government has declared Nadal will receive the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit.

The honour is reserved for the country's highest achievers in sport, with golf great Seve Ballesteros among the previous recipients, along with Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano and 2010 World Cup winners Xavi, Iker Casillas and Andres Iniesta.

Nadal is not the first tennis player to land the Grand Cross, however, with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Conchita Martinez rewarded in 2001 for their careers and Manuel Santana honoured a year earlier.

The announcement from the government described Nadal as "one of the best athletes in history and an example to follow" on and off the courts.

The Higher Sports Council stated on Twitter: "If anyone deserves the Royal Cross of the Order of Sporting Merit, it's you @RafaelNadal. You have made history and a great pride for all the country."

Rafael Nadal has been labelled as "the pride of our country" by Spain boss Luis Enrique following his latest French Open triumph.

Nadal made it 13 Roland Garros titles with a straight-sets victory over Novak Djokovic on Sunday, taking him level with Roger Federer on 20 grand slams.

It was his 100th match win at the event in Paris at a major he has dominated, losing only twice.

Nadal's supremacy in his 6-0 6-2 7-5 win against the world number one on Philippe Chatrier was underlined by the fact he made just 14 unforced errors to his opponent's 52.

And Luis Enrique, whose side face Ukraine in the Nations League on Tuesday, heaped praise on his 34-year-old compatriot.

"I want to congratulate him on behalf of the [Spanish Football] Federation," he said.

"I remember his way of facing failures and his respect for his opponents. 

"He is the pride of our country. He offers us a lesson in life."

Nadal has now moved to 999 career wins across all tournaments, with 201 defeats, and has captured 86 titles.

In the titles reckoning he sits fourth in the Open Era (behind Jimmy Connors' 109, Roger Federer's 103 and Ivan Lendl's 94). A startling 60 of those titles from Nadal have come on clay.

Rafael Nadal took his chance to equal Roger Federer's haul of 20 grand slams by winning the French Open on Sunday.

The Spaniard demolished Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 in the final at Roland Garros for his 13th French Open title and 20th major success, tying the record held by Federer for most won by a man.

Nadal has dominated in Paris and he did so once more despite some questions heading into the tournament.

The 34-year-old capitalised on a dream run – one of the easiest of his career at grand slams.

Nadal brushed aside Egor Gerasimov, Mackenzie McDonald, Stefano Travaglia, Sebastian Korda, Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman before meeting Djokovic.

But you can only beat what is in front of you. We take a look at how the opponents compare to his previous major wins.

Dream run opens up

While Nadal is almost unstoppable at Roland Garros, he was playing just his second tournament back from the coronavirus-enforced break.

There were perhaps meant to be a few trickier early encounters, but Fabio Fognini, Kei Nishikori and John Isner, who almost stunned Nadal at the French Open in 2011, fell early.

It seemed Nadal's biggest test to reach the final would be Dominic Thiem in the semis, but the in-form Schwartzman stunned the Austrian in the last eight.

The average ranking of Nadal's opponents at this year's tournament was 99.4. Only at Roland Garros in 2010 (116.6) has that figure been higher on his way to grand slam success.

But 10 years ago, he faced wildcard Gianni Mina – then ranked 655th in the world – in the first round, skewing that number. The median ranking of opponents he met this year was 75, which is the highest number of any of his major successes, eclipsing the 2017 US Open (59).

It meant Nadal faced just two top-50 players in Paris in Djokovic and Schwartzman, the same as at Flushing Meadows three years ago. The Spaniard's highest-ranked opponent on his way to that US Open title was world number 28 Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals before he crushed Kevin Anderson in the decider.

Nadal can only beat what he is presented, but none of Federer and Djokovic's grand slams have been won after defeating only two top-50 players.

Capitalising on the opportunity

Somehow, despite a French Open win-loss record that he improved to 100-2 in 2020, there were still questions over Nadal heading into a tournament he has owned. Had he had enough match practice? How would the colder weather impact him?

With the draw softened, Nadal claimed the trophy without dropping a set for the fourth time in his career, following on from 2008, 2010 and 2017. They are the four occasions he has won a major without losing a set.

In fact, he lost just 53 games. Only twice has he lost fewer – at the 2017 French Open (35) and 2008 French Open (41) – on his way to a grand slam title.

It may have been an easier passage, but Nadal again showed why he is the 'King of Clay'.

Rafael Nadal is unsure whether he will play again this year as he basks in the "beautiful" feeling of sharing the record for men's grand slam singles titles with Roger Federer.

Nadal produced another masterclass at Roland Garros on Sunday, beating old foe Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 to win his favourite tournament for an astonishing 13th time.

The Spanish great also moved level with Federer's tally of 20 major triumphs, outclassing world number one Djokovic in Paris.

Nadal skipped the US Open, as he was not comfortable travelling to New York amid the coronavirus pandemic, before making his return to the ATP Tour in Rome in September following an absence of seven months.

The 34-year-old will soon turn his attention to deciding when he will next be in action, following another sublime performance on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Novak Djokovic insists he had no fitness complaints during the French Open final and simply lost to a "perfect" performance from Rafael Nadal.

World number one Djokovic lost a completed match for the first time this year as he remarkably went down 6-0 6-2 7-5.

Nadal dominated Sunday's match to claim his 13th Roland Garros title and 20th grand slam championship in total, equalling Roger Federer's record.

Djokovic had been battling neck and shoulder issues in the quarter-finals earlier in the week, wearing tape, repeatedly stretching out his left arm and also receiving treatment as he beat Pablo Carreno Busta.

The Serbian had no desire to look for excuses against Nadal, though, and instead paid tribute to his opponent.

"No, no, I was fine. Everything was okay," Djokovic told a news conference. "I was ready for this match.

"It's just that I was outplayed. I was beaten by a guy who was just perfect today - especially the first two sets. That's all there is to it.

"I will absolutely not find any other justification for this loss. He was just better.

"Straight-sets victory, yeah. It's a grand slam final, but playing Rafa on clay, you play Rafa, who is playing the way he's playing, it's tough to get a set off him.

"I thought third set was a chance, but I just didn't use it."

Despite Nadal's incredible record at the French Open, where he has not lost in more than five years, Djokovic admits he was surprised by his standard.

"I felt well throughout the entire tournament. I thought I was in a great form," he said. "Certainly I could have played better, especially in the first two sets.

"But he did surprise me with the way he was playing, the quality of tennis he was producing, the level. He's phenomenal."

Roger Federer hopes both he and Rafael Nadal can kick on from 20 grand slam titles after the Spaniard joined his rival on the landmark number.

Federer has long led the way for men's singles championships, yet a two-year drought allowed Nadal to close the gap.

The world number two then won the French Open final on Sunday against Novak Djokovic - a dominant 6-0 6-2 7-5 success - to match Federer's record tally.

It was a 13th triumph at Roland Garros, too, and Federer said he was only too happy to welcome Nadal to the top of the standings.

"I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion," Federer wrote in a message posted to his Twitter page.

"As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players. Therefore, it is a true honour for me to congratulate him on his 20th grand slam victory.

"It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times, which is one of the greatest achievements in sport.

"I also congratulate his team, because nobody can do this alone.

"I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it."

Federer will end 2020 without winning an ATP Tour event as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Rafael Nadal brushed away talk of his record-equalling haul of grand slam triumphs as he focused on his Roland Garros "love story" after another French Open win.

Nadal thrashed world number one Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 to match Roger Federer's total of 20 men's singles titles at the tennis majors.

It was the Spaniard's 13th success on the red clay of Paris, raising his own benchmark further, and his long relationship with the crowd in France was at the forefront of the champion's mind.

"To win here means everything to me," Nadal said. "It's not the moment - honestly not for me - to think about the 20th, equalling Roger or this great number.

"For me, today is just a Roland Garros victory. Roland Garros means everything to me.

"I spent the most important moments of my tennis career here. I just want to say thank you very, very much to everybody here.

"For me, just to play here is a true inspiration. The love story I have with this city and this court is unforgettable."

So dominant was Nadal's latest win on Court Philippe-Chatrier that he apologised to rival Djokovic, who had not lost a completed match up to this point in 2020.

"Congrats to Novak for another great tournament," Nadal said. "Sorry for today. In Australia, he killed me a couple of times ago. Today was for me.

"That's part of the game. We've played plenty of times together - one day one wins, another day the other. So all the best for the future, Novak."

Djokovic acknowledged he had been completely outclassed.

"I want to say a huge congratulations to Rafa and your team and your family, of course," the top seed said in his post-final speech.

"What you are doing on this court is unbelievable - but not just this court. Throughout your entire career, you've been a great champion.

"Today you showed why you're king of the clay. I experienced it with my own skin.

"It was a very tough match for me today - obviously I am not so pleased with the way I played - but I was definitely outplayed by a better player today on the court."

Rafael Nadal matched Roger Federer's record of 20 grand slam singles titles and secured a 100th match victory at the French Open as he thrashed Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros final.

A 6-0 6-2 7-5 defeat of the world number one gave Nadal a 13th major on the Paris clay, extending his own record for the most titles won by a player at a single grand slam.

It also meant that for the fourth time he went through the entire draw without dropping a set.

The career of the great Spaniard invites close examination to fully appreciate the prowess that has seen him run up such astonishing numbers.

Here is how he has staked a strong claim to be regarded among the greatest tennis players of all time - and unquestionably the king of clay.

DREAM DEBUT TO SERIAL THRILLER

Nadal turned 19 two days before winning his first French Open title, which came in 2005, on his debut appearance in the tournament.

His record on the Roland Garros clay shows Nadal has now won an astonishing 100 matches and lost only twice, with Robin Soderling and Djokovic the only men to defeat him. Djokovic sits second on the list in Paris, with 74 wins.

Of those 100 wins for Nadal, an incredible 81 have come without him dropping a set, 17 have come in four sets, and on two occasions he has won in five.

He has had 27 victories against players ranked inside the top 10 during his century of French successes and has never lost when he has reached the semi-final stage.

Sunday's win was a seventh for Nadal in eight Roland Garros clashes with Djokovic, and a third success in a French Open final against the Serbian after their 2012 and 2014 title matches.

In the men's game, Federer had been the only man to rack up 100 or more match wins in a single grand slam prior to Nadal joining him.

The Swiss veteran has won 102 matches at the Australian Open and 101 at Wimbledon.

ANOTHER LANDMARK LOOMING

Nadal has now moved to 999 career wins across all tournaments, with 201 defeats, and has captured 86 titles.

In the titles reckoning he sits fourth in the Open Era (behind Jimmy Connors' 109, Federer's 103 and Ivan Lendl's 94). A startling 60 of those titles from Nadal have come on clay.

Mallorca's favourite son has been a fixture in the top 10 on the ATP Tour since first breaking through to that level in April 2005 and has spent 209 weeks at world number one, a position he last occupied before last year's Australian Open.

He has won one Australian Open title, 13 now in Paris, two at Wimbledon and four at the US Open.

NADAL THE G.O.A.T.?

It still feels too early to make a call on which of the Big Three will be remembered as the greatest of all time, or more specifically of their era.

They each own a host of astounding records, but if all three were to finish their careers with 20 grand slams, which is not beyond the realms of possibility, then one tie-breaker might be their head-to-heads in the grand slams.

Nadal can point to a 10-4 winning record against Federer in the four majors, and now a 10-6 lead over Djokovic.

Before Sunday, he had lost his last three grand slam clashes with the man from Belgrade, but Nadal will now take some reining in.

Rafael Nadal equalled Roger Federer's record of 20 grand slam men's singles titles with his latest stunning French Open victory over Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

Nadal's remarkable record of Roland Garros success continued courtesy of an astonishing 6-0 6-2 7-5 win against the world number one on Philippe Chatrier.

Thirteen of the Spaniard's major triumphs have come on the red clay in Paris, where he has lost only twice - never in a final and not at all since the last eight in 2015 against Djokovic.

A 999th top-level victory and 100th at this event never looked to be in doubt as Nadal seized control from the outset to win the French Open without dropping a set across the tournament for the fourth time.

This was just Djokovic's second defeat of the season but came in a far more clinical manner than the first, when he was defaulted from the US Open for striking a line judge with the ball.

Djokovic - a 17-time grand slam champion - had swiftly sought to put Nadal to work with a series of drop shots, but the defending champion responded in typically masterful fashion and raced into a two-break lead in the opener.

Although the sort of brave defence so often associated with Djokovic was again on display, prompting some staggering rallies, he could not make significant progress against the Nadal serve and subsequently collapsed from 40-0 up on his own.

The Serbian deserved better than a first-set bagel - the first in a men's major final since 2006 - yet soon trailed again in the second, sending a tired forehand into the net at the end of another draining game.

Djokovic puffed out his cheeks as Nadal refused to relent, breaking once more and coasting through the remainder of another straightforward set to bring the Musketeers' Cup firmly into view.

The top seed dug in at the start of the third and even quickly recovered to level the set after a meek break to love granted Nadal complete command.

Djokovic's renewed resilience briefly kept his opponent at bay, but a contentious double-fault proved the decisive blow and Nadal served out the championship to love with an ace to match Federer, a man five years his senior who has not won an ATP Tour event in 2020 and continues to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Margaret Court's overall record of 24 singles major championships is surely now in the king of clay's sights.


Data Slam: Stunning start sets the tone

For much of the 48-minute opening set, Djokovic gave as good as he got. But Nadal dominated in key areas - Djokovic's first serve was at 42 per cent, while he won just three of 18 short rallies - to result in a one-sided scoreline. Only twice has this rivalry produced a 6-0 set, the other coming as Nadal also raced into a lead in last year's Internazionali d'Italia final.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 31/14
Djokovic – 38/52

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 4/1
Djokovic – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 7/18
Djokovic – 1/5

Rafael Nadal dominated Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 in the French Open final on Sunday to tie Roger Federer's record of 20 grand slam titles.

French Open champion Iga Swiatek has set her sights on becoming the consistent major winner women's tennis has been lacking over recent years.

The unseeded Pole capped a remarkable fortnight at Roland Garros by claiming the title on Saturday with a win over Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the final.

Supreme Swiatek did not drop a single set over seven rounds, also accounting for tournament favourite Simona Halep and 2019 finalist Marketa Vondrousova along the way.

The 19-year-old looks destined for a bright future and, once she has enjoyed her success, will look to remain a force on the WTA Tour.

With 23-time major winner Serena Williams having not won a grand slam since the 2017 Australian Open, the women's game has not seen a group of players dominate in the way Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have on the men's side.

"I know my game isn't developed perfectly," the world number 54 said after her 6-4 6-1 win over Kenin in the final.

"I think the biggest change for me is going to be to be consistent, this is what women's tennis is struggling with. 

"That's why we have so many new grand slam winners because we are not as consistent as Rafa, Roger and Novak. That's why my goal is going to be to be consistent. 

"It's going to be really hard to achieve that. Right now, when I'm here and I'm a grand slam champion, it's crazy. I'm just going to enjoy the moment and I'm going to think about my future goals later.

"I'm just proud of myself. I've done a great job the past two weeks. I wasn't expecting to win this trophy. It's obviously amazing for me. I just feel like I kind of made history.

"I know that there are no limits. Even though you're really young and you're an underdog, you can do a lot in a sport like tennis."

Swiatek revealed her unbelievable 6-1 6-2 fourth-round win over former champion Halep felt like such a big accomplishment that she was able to play her final three matches free of pressure.

Her focus on having the right mentality on court has also helped her to seemingly play without nerves, as she coolly handled her run to victory despite having never made the last eight of a major before.

"Actually, it was so crazy for me winning against Simona that I already thought about the tournament as like my lifetime achievement," Swiatek explained.

"Really, I had no expectations. I knew it's going to be tough in the final. I didn't want to stress a lot about it, so I just told myself that I don't care and I tried to believe in that. 

"In the end I really just enjoyed the moment. It's not that I don't care if I'm going to win or lose, I'm just not thinking about it all the time. 

"I use visualisation. I meditate, especially during breaks during match. You ask what is the role of sports psychology in the performance, and I think there is a huge role. 

"I can see the difference when I'm mentally prepared and I'm ready to handle the stress, the pressure. I can see the difference where I can't. That's why I'm sometimes losing in first round and sometimes I can win a tournament. 

"My next goal is going to be more consistent and use the skills I have every time because it's also tiring for your mind."

Sofia Kenin confirmed a leg injury hindered her significantly in her French Open final defeat to Iga Swiatek, to a stage where she could barely move in the second set.

The Australian Open champion was denied a second grand slam title of 2020 when unseeded teenager Swiatek triumphed 6-4 6-1 at Roland Garros on Saturday.

Kenin received heavy strapping to her left thigh during a medical time-out in the final and revealed she had been dealing with an issue throughout the second week of the tournament.

Asked how she felt after falling at the last hurdle, the American said: "First of all, obviously a little bit disappointed and upset.

"She obviously played a really good match. She's really hot right now, playing some really great tennis. 

"I'm not going to use this as an excuse, but my leg obviously was not the best. It's obviously disappointing. I've got to get some rest and hopefully my leg will get better.

"I've had it for a few of my matches. I've had to tape. I saw the physio and everything, so I was doing everything I can. 

"Today obviously after the first set I just felt it was so tight, I couldn't move. That's why I had to call the trainer. It just got worse. It is quite unfortunate it had to happen in this match. 

"I can't remember when it happened. First two matches were fine. I think it was maybe third match I already had it taped or fourth round. I don't remember exactly. 

"I've had this in the past, but not quite often. I'm obviously working well on my fitness - it's not such a problem that I have. I always used to get it taped on my left abductor. 

"Obviously it's expected that it's a little bit sore, given the circumstances, how many matches I played, three-setters. On clay it's very physical. You have to move and slide a lot."

Kenin praised the way Swiatek, who showed few signs of nerves in her first major final, served and dictated play on her forehand.

She added: "Like I said, she played really well. All credit to her. 

"A few things just didn't go my way. Then, yeah, unfortunately my leg wasn't in the best condition, I guess.

"I'm not going to [the WTA event in] Ostrava, given my leg. I have to rest and I had a great run here.

"It sucks the season is over for us. I really wish there were more tournaments. I'm going to use this time to get my leg rested and everything, and, yeah, start pre-season."

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has expressed his delight after Iga Swiatek ended Poland's long wait for a singles grand slam champion.

Swiatek, 19, capped a stunning fortnight at Roland Garros with a 6-4 6-1 win over Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the Paris final on Saturday.

The unseeded player did not drop a set over her seven rounds, other notable wins including an emphatic victory over tournament favourite Simona Halep in the fourth round and seeing off the 2019 finalist, Marketa Vondrousova, in her first match.

Just two years ago she had won the junior title at Wimbledon and prior to this tournament had never reached the last eight of a tennis major.

Her run to victory captured the attention of Lewandowski, another of Poland's sporting success stories.

"What an amazing success, what a great story! Good job Iga Swiatek," Lewandowski wrote on Twitter after the win over Kenin, having also sent a message of support earlier this week.

Swiatek had earlier referenced the traction her run at the event had been getting in her country.

"I want to thank all the fans and everyone watching in Poland; I know it's pretty crazy back home," she said in her on-court interview.

Swiatek was later asked in her news conference if she understood her life was about to change.

She added: "That's true. I mean, it's hard to comment on that right now because I need to come back home first, see what's going on in Poland.

"I know it's going to be crazy. I think I'm going to get used to that, it's not going to be a problem for me. I didn't have a problem with getting attention, with people surrounding me.

"I think it's going to be okay for me. I really appreciate all the support I got during the whole two weeks.

"Even though I wasn't on my phone and I wasn't answering every person, I know that the whole country was behind me and they all believed in me. I'm going to be happy and proud."

Poland captain Lewandowski, who was recently named UEFA Player of the Year, will be hoping to cap a fine sporting weekend for the nation when his team host Italy in the Nations League on Sunday.

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