| By David Drucker

If you watched this week’s Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif., you would have never guessed that Serena Williams had been out of the game for nearly one full year. Yesterday, Serena took care of business in decisive fashion against France’s Marion Bartoli 7-5, 6-1 to earn her first title since the 2010 Wimbledon Championships. Believe it or not, this was Serena’s first time ever winning the Bank of the West Classic. This win, however, is more important then you think, simply because Serena now has the confidence that she can win titles again, which makes her a very dangerous player going into the upcoming Masters 1000 tournaments in Toronto, Canada from Aug. 8-14, building up to the 2011 U.S. Open at the end of August.

Serena took out number two seed Maria Sharapova with ease in the quarterfinals on Friday, 6-1, 6-3. Those who thought they were going to see a high-quality match from both players were wrong, as it was simply a one-sided beat down from Serena. Then, it was a semifinals matchup with Sabine Lisicki of Germany, a very dangerous player with a heavy serve and forehand. Determined and focused, Serena didn’t flinch for one second en route to her 6-1, 6-2, win over the up and coming German. To cap off her impressive run, Serena dismissed Bartoli, the number three seed, to clinch her first ever Bank of the West Classic title. Bartoli was responsible for ending Serena’s Wimbledon run in the fourth round in June, so for Serena, it was sweet revenge.