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After This French Open Title, Anything Is Possible For Serena Williams

PARIS -- What is remaining for Serena Williams the rest of 2015? A 21st Grand Slam championship? A 22nd to match Steffi Graf for the most Slam titles in the Open era? A Grand Slam year?

Sure, but why stop with 2015? What about 2016? Given Serena's ability, strength, resilience, drama and age-defying drive, nothing is out of the realm of possibility. So in addition to the Grand Slam season and Olympic gold, there also is always winning a Super Bowl. True, her minority ownership is in the Miami Dolphins, a team that hasn't been to the NFL championship in three decades. But who knows? You can't rule out anything when Serena sets her mind to it.

Williams showed that again and again -- and again and again and again -- in her amazing French Open. She lost the first set four times. She went to three sets five times. She battled a flu that she said could have knocked her out of the final. And despite all that, Williams won her 20th Grand Slam and third in a row by beating Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 on Saturday.

And not only was it her 20th, it probably also was her most challenging.

"Being down in the second, third and fourth rounds, it wasn't very easy, so this probably topped for my most difficult time to win,'' Serena said. "But it also makes me feel good that I was able to be fit and be able to win the event. I can't believe I won, but it's cool.''

If Serena wins at Wimbledon (where she's a five-time champ), she would complete her second Serena Slam by winning four consecutive Grand Slams, which she also did in 2002-03 at just 21. If she can win at Wimbledon and the US Open (which she has won three times in a row and six overall), she would become the first woman since Graf to win all four majors in the same calendar year.

"I've got a Serena Slam and I'm close to another Serena Slam,'' she said when asked about the possibility of a calendar-year Slam. "It's rare. No one has done it since Steffi. I'm kind of hoping [Novak] Djokovic will win here so I'm not the only one [who could]. 'We're in this together, brother.' We'll see. I don't want to have people asking me all these questions.''

The toughest tournament probably would be Wimbledon, where Williams lost in the third and fourth rounds the past two years, in addition to her infamous doubles meltdown. "Wimbledon is the monkey on my back because I have not done well there [recently], considering how well I have done there in the past,'' she said. "That's the one I really want to do well at.

"I've never liked grass and I don't know how I've done so well on it. I think now that it's a slower surface it will help me out a little more on it.''

You won't find a doubter in Safarova.

"She's a great player,'' Safarova said. "She obviously has the experience. She won all those Grand Slams already. I think she can do it. If she's on her best and in great shape, she's playing the best tennis.''

Serena has been the best player on the tour for well over two years, and the distance between her and the next best is wider than the Atlantic. Consider this: When next week's rankings come out, Williams will lead new No. 2 (and 2014 Wimbledon champ) Petra Kvitova by more than 4,000 points.

Even when she isn't playing her best tennis, though, Serena can win.

No matter what obstacle is in her way -- whether Williams put them there or her opponents did -- Serena overcame them here. Whether it was dropping the first set or losing the second, whether it was feeling strong or so sick she collapsed on the locker room floor after her semifinal match, Williams won. Every time. As she does so often. As Safarova told her after the match, "You are a great fighter.''

Williams called the past 48 hours "a nightmare.''

"I even told the physio [Friday night], 'I'm not sure I'm going to be able to play because this is just not looking good,''' she said. "I actually was really bad last night.''

Yeah, right. Like Serena Williams is going to skip a championship match.

"Usually you get sick or have a common cold. When you have the flu your whole body aches. That's kind of what I have been dealing with,'' she said. "Even now I just really don't have any energy and I just want to go to bed.

"But it has nothing to do with why I lost those first sets in the beginning of the week. I think that was just poor starting and not playing the way Serena Williams should play.''

Saturday's final was as gripping as her previous matches this fortnight, though it didn't look that way at the start. Clearly feeling better than in Thursday's semifinal, Williams won the first set and was a point away from taking a 5-1 lead in the second. Then she started missing with her serve, double-faulting and wound up losing the set. She also lost the first two games of the third set.

Hey, it's Serena. There has to be some drama, right?

Naturally, she stormed back, firing herself up with her trademark "C'mon!'' shouts, as well as four-letter curses. Down 1-2 during the changeover, she reportedly had some very strong words for herself. She won the final six games to take home her third French title.

After winning, Serena thrust her arms up as if signaling a touchdown (see, maybe that Super Bowl idea isn't so crazy).

So what's next? Well, Wimbledon is in three weeks. And then there's the US Open. And based on what we've seen from her so far -- the two Grand Slams this year, her return to Indian Wells, her injuries and illnesses -- there's always a possible Tony, Emmy or Oscar for most consistent dramatic performances.

"I think it will be awesome, but at the end of the day it's pretty awesome to have 20,'' Williams said of a possible Grand Slam year. "Obviously I would love to win a Grand Slam. I haven't done great at Wimbledon the past two years, so I'm going to take it a day at a time there. My goal is just to do better than the last couple of years, do one more and one more and one more.''

In other words, whatever Serena does the rest of the way, stay tuned.