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Serena is well on on her way back to No. 1

Again, Serena Williams fans barely had time to settle in with a crepe and Kettle Korn.

Her Family Circle Cup opponents don’t work weekends, or so it seemed.

Serena, 30 and playing as well as ever, had herself quite a Sunday on Daniel Island. In no particular order, the richest, most accomplished player on the WTA Tour:

Won the singles final with a 6-0, 6-1 beatdown of No. 9 seed Lucie Safarova that looked similar to her 6-1, 6-1 semifinal rout of No. 2 seed Samantha Stosur.

Said she will move to Paris.
Confirmed her love for banana pudding.

Served hard.
Served notice.
At this pace and in such a good place, Serena is sure to surge back to No. 1 this summer. Always formidable and insightful, she was more than that this week.

Unflappable. Always gracious. Healthy and appreciative after injuries ruined the first half of her 2011 tennis plans. Joyful.

“I’m just focused on the moment. I’m living in the present,” Serena said. “Sometimes my mind does wander a little bit, but, for the most part, I’m just not thinking about too much.”

Serena will jump a spot to No. 9 in the WTA Tour rankings. You have to respect the top eight players, but there is nothing No. 1 Victoria Azerenka, No. 2 Maria Sharapova, No. 3 Petra Kvitova or anyone else can do if Serena is playing this well.

As ESPN2 analyst Pam Shriver said Sunday, while tour depth has never been better through 100 players, the top three are by no means better than ever.

Which is why Serena will pounce, the way she did after winning the 2008 Family Circle Cup. She went on to win four of the next eight Grand Slam singles finals.

‘What can you do?’

No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska won’t stand in the way.

Ask Stosur, ranked No. 5.
“I mean, what can you do,” the straight-shooting Australian said after losing to Serena for the second time in three weeks.

No. 6 Caroline Wozniacki didn’t return to Daniel Island to defend her 2011 Family Circle Cup title but might have been too distracted following boyfriend Rory McElroy at the Masters to effectively deal with Serena.

Wozniacki spent the week filming a music video in Poland and hosting her own tournament in Copenhagen.

Her tweets from the weekend:
“Enjoying a nice dinner on a boat in Copenhagen”

“Looking out the window and snow is falling hard outside … Thought we were wwwin April.”

“Nice round for @McElroyRory (Friday)!”

True, Williams benefited from a short quarterfinal Friday when Sabine Lisicki bowed out with an ankle injury down 4-1 in the first set. Safarova played singles and doubles Saturday. Stosur because of bad weather Thursday night had to play five-plus sets Friday.

Paris calls

But no excuses, the dominated agreed.

“It wasn’t bad luck,” Stosur said. “She beat me fair and square.”

If this wasn’t Safarova’s best week of professional tennis, it was real close to her quarterfinals run at the 2007 Australian Open. She celebrated doubles triumphs earlier this week with Pavlyuchenkova, enjoying themed dinner outings tied to their respective countries.

“It was funny,” she said after reaching the final. “We said two days ago it was Russian Night. Then it was Czech Night.”

So, Lucie. Where do you go on a tight schedule for good Czech food in the Lowcountry of South Carolina?

“Czech Night?” she said. “We ended very late. It was, like, 10. So we went (right across Seven Farms Drive) to Wasabi for sushi.”

Keeping with the international theme, Serena will move from South Florida to Paris.

“I love it there and I just … I need a change,” Serena explained.

What better house-warming gift than a French Open trophy?

Reach Gene Sapakoff at 9t37-5593 or via Twitter @sapakoff

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