Serena Williams left no doubt as to who the best player is in the world of women's tennis. She showed it by shaking off a bad start and playing to near perfection the rest of the way.
The top-ranked and top-seeded Williams won her WTA-leading fourth title of the season, beating third-seeded Angelique Kerber 7-6 (1), 6-3 in the championship match of the Bank of the West Classic on Sunday.
Williams earned $120,000, the highest winning payout in this tournament's history, and a stuffed bear for her trouble this week. Kerber picked up a second-place check for $64,000.
Spain's Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro defeated Poland's Paula Kania and Czech Republic's Katerina Siniakova, 6-2, 4-6, 10-5, to win the doubles title and share $38,000 in prize money. The runner-up tandem shares $20,000.
Williams improved to 17-2 overall in matches played at the Taube Family Tennis Center. She's 30-5 this season and 662-117 for her career. Williams is 61-17 in finals.
Any doubt that she's lost a step since her unfortunate departure from a doubles match with her sister Venus at Wimbledon were washed away with Williams' performance in her four matches this week.
Serena Williams, who did not play well at the French Open or Wimbledon, returned to the hardcourts with a vengeance. She's still the champion until further notice.
Kerber, who fell to 0-4 in finals this season, won five straight games to go up 5-1 and was serving for the set at 5-2. Williams saved two set points and went on her own five-game run.
"I blinked my eye and I was down 1-5," Williams said. "Angelique was playing well and I thought 'what's going on?' I tried to relax, not think about anything, and just wanted to make my shots."
The eighth-ranked Kerber forced a tiebreaker, where Williams took charge with five straight points to open.
Williams beat the left-handed Kerber a fourth straight time and five of six overall. All of their matches have been in straight sets.
Williams will reign as the No. 1 player for a 200th non-consecutive week when rankings are announced Monday, fifth all-time. Martina Hingis is fourth with 209 weeks.
Williams extended her winning streak to 13 matches in winning her third title at Stanford in four years.
Kerber, who will move up a notch to No. 7 in the rankings, was the first German to reach the final here since Sylvia Hanika in 1987. Bettina Bunge, in 1983, was the last German to win the tournament.
"She showed she's the best player in the world," Kerber said. "I had a great week, with some great matches against good opponents."
Williams travels to take part in the Rogers Cup in Montreal, which begins Monday. She'll likely not play until Wednesday.
"Every week is a new week and all I can do is try and improve," Williams said.