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. -- Serena Williams smashed one final serve, dropped her racket, clenched her hands together and raised her arms in triumph. At long last, a champion again. After blood clots in her lugs and two foot operations threatened her career for nearly a year, Williams captured her first tournament title since returning with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Marion Bartoli in the Bank of the West Classic final Sunday. "Coming back and hearing the claps when I walk out there are moments that I truly missed," Williams said. "Its so awesome to be back and to be a part of those moments. Not everyone can be a sports, I dont know if star sounds full of myself, but Ive worked hard for that title. "So, yes, I say it and I take pride in it." The 13-time major champion overcame two breaks in the first set to rally for a dominating finish. She went ahead 5-0 in the second and left no doubt. The victory was even sweeter because the ninth-ranked Bartoli beat the former world No. 1 in straight sets in the fourth round at Wimbledon this year. The finals appearance was the first for Williams since winning at the All England Club in 2010 and her best showing this year. Williams also became the first American woman to win on home soil since she won the 2008 U.S. Open. While she entered the tournament unseeded and ranked 169th, the victory will vault Williams into the top 80. "I hated those triple digits," she said, chuckling. "Now Ive got to get to single digits." Shes well on her way after this week. Williams handled the competition with relative ease, including a 6-1, 6-3 thumping of Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals. She capped it off with a vintage performance against a well-rested Bartoli, who advanced when Slovakias Dominika Cibulkova withdrew in the other semifinal because of a strained abdominal muscle. Bartoli was bothered by a bruise in the centre of her right hand that began to swell in the middle of the opening set. She said the injury loosened her grip but didnt cost her the match. Williams was too good for that. "Serena, she already can improve from one day to the other," Bartoli said. "So you can imagine from one match to the other. I knew before the match started it was different than Wimbledon." Sporting a long-sleeve green shirt and black skirt, Williams conservative outfit -- by her sister Venus standards, anyway -- was matched only by her strategy. She was calm and cool behind Bartolis go-for-broke shots -- including a second serve topping 100 m.p.h. -- but a harder time with the elements. Williams struggled serving into the sun on a crisp and clear day at Stanford, even hitting a few serves with a shortened toss and awkward delivery. She was broken in the third game of the match and went down 4-2. Williams saved two break points and moved back to 4-4 with a break, pumping her fist in celebration. Bartoli broke back and served for the set at 5-4, first requesting a trainer to deal with the bruise. After a long rally on set point for Williams, somebody in the crowd yelled "out" while Bartoli returned a ball near the baseline. The French woman kept playing before Williams unleashed a forehand winner for the set. Bartoli argued unsuccessfully with the chair umpire to replay the point, and she requested a trainer between sets. In the end, she said, none of it mattered against her opponent. "Im sure shes going to tell you that she can play even better," Bartoli said. "And Im sure that she will." Such a small victory for Williams might never have meant so much. After winning Wimbledon in July 2010, she was out for nearly a year recovering from various health scares. The worst were two foot operations and blood clots in her lungs that left her depressed and "on my deathbed," as she put it, much less wondering if she could ever play again. Now Williams is not only back but ready to make more runs on the hard-court series this summer and at the U.S. Open beginning in late August. She said her stamina is back and her game is getting sharper by the day, a scary thought for opponents heading into Flushing Meadows. Even if shes not ready to tab herself the favourite. "I havent thought about (the U.S. Open). Right now, I just put myself right at the bottom," Williams said. "I feel like I just want to start and go in. My confidence is better, which is what I was planning for. I dont even think like that. When I get there, Im going to have the same chance as everybody else." Darryl Tapp Lions Jersey
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. Canucks head coach John Tortorella announced Tuesday that both Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows are listed as day-to-day and will not travel with the team to play the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday and Thursday night.St. Louis, MO - The St. Louis Rams announced Wednesday the signing of guard Davin Joseph, a two-time Pro Bowl selection during his previous tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. NFL.com reported the deal to be a one-year contract. Joseph, a first-round choice (23rd overall) of the Buccaneers in the 2006 draft, earned Pro Bowl honors in 2008 and 2011 and started 99 games over seven seasons with Tampa Bay, inccluding all 16 at right guard in 2013. Travis Lewis Lions Jersey
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