Quebec City: Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni won her first WTA title since 1998 on Sunday, defeating former world number one Venus Williams 6-4, 6-3 to capture the Quebec City tournament.
Mirjana Lucic-Baron and Venus Williams
The 32-year-old former teen star won her only two prior WTA titles on home soil at the 1997 and 1998 Croatian Opens, beating American Corina Morariu in each Bol final. By defeating US top seed Williams, Lucic-Baroni ended the longest gap between titles in WTA history, a wait of 16 years and four months.
"It was so long ago, I don't even remember what it's like to hold a trophy in my hands," Lucic-Baroni said.
"It's just incredible. I'm still in a little bit of shock because I was so focused today, but oh my goodness, it's just an amazing feeling right now." Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm held the old mark of 13 years and one month between her trophies in 1996 at San Diego and in 2009 at Seoul.
Lucic-Baroni broke seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Williams in the fourth game of the second set and held for a 4-1 edge before the 34-year-old American battled back, holding and then breaking back to 4-3.
Lucic-Baroni, who had not reached a final since her 1998 title run in her homeland, answered with a break and held serve to claim the historic title after 83 minutes. Williams, ranked 19th and coming off a third-round exit at the US Open, was denied her 46th career WTA title.
She won earlier this year at Dubai. "My opponent played too well," Williams said. "She swung as hard as she could on every shot and hit so many lines. "It's not typical that when you go for every shot they almost all go in.
I think I played pretty well, but she just played better." Williams had beaten Lucic-Baroni in their two prior WTA meetings, most recently last year in Brazil.
After three years spent mostly away from the tour, Lucic-Baroni returned in 2007 and has shown her best form in more than a decade in recent weeks. She reached the fourth round at the US Open, a Grand Slam run she only bettered with a trip to the 1999 Wimbledon semi-finals.