Venus Williams is making a strong bid for the No. 1 ranking.
The Wimbledon champion claimed her third straight tournament title Sunday when she held off a tough challenge from Monica Seles en route to a 6-0, 6-7 (3), 6-3 victory at the $535,000 Acura Classic.
"I'm playing my best tennis," said Williams, who won $87,000 along with the title. "There's a lot of things that I'm not doing right, but I'm still winning."
The numbers back up Williams, who is ranked third behind Martina Hingis and Lindsay Davenport. Against Seles, Williams had 55 winners but also committed 33 unforced errors. She made just 51 percent of her first serves and had 14 double faults.
Williams' tournament victory streak includes her first Grand Slam tournament title at Wimbledon, then last week's Bank of the West Classic, where she beat Davenport in the final.
"She has more confidence now," said the fifth-ranked Seles. "Winning Wimbledon has helped her out a lot."
Tendinitis in both wrists sidelined Williams from December to May. But since returning, she has continued to improve each week in her six tournaments.
Williams breezed through her previous three matches here, dropping only 12 games. The trend looked as if it would continue as she took only 18 minutes to steamroll Seles in the first set.
"In the first set I was just trying to get going," Seles said. "My feet were dead out there. I still felt asleep. I said I better wake up or otherwise it's going to be over within 20 minutes."
Seles, winner of 47 titles including nine Grand Slam tournament championships rebounded strongly. The left-hander began successfully slugging it out with Williams.
"I think I lost focus for part of the time," Williams said.
Seles recorded the first service break of the second set, and when she held serve, Seles went ahead 5-2. After holding serve, Williams broke back and each player held again to force the tiebreaker.
Williams' serve deserted her in the tiebreaker as she double faulted three times, including a 67 mph effort on set point.
A trade of service breaks had the players on serve in the third set with Williams up 4-3. But Seles' serve was broken when she hit a backhand into the nt.
"That was a key game," Seles admitted. "At 5-3, she really served three great serves. There was not much I could do."
Williams wasted one match point in the next game, then hit a forehand winner to win her 12th career title.
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