KEY BISCAYNE (AP) _ Serena Williams cupped a hand to her mouth and hollered from her front-row seat, like any other fan hoping to see a better match.
Or at least see Venus Williams win a point.
Kim Clijsters claimed another trophy in her career comeback Saturday, April 3 by beating the older Williams 6-2, 6-1 in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open.
The match was even more lopsided than the score might suggest. Clijsters won 17 consecutive points in the second set, the equivalent of more than four games.
“It wasn't my best day,'' Williams said. “She played extremely solid, but it's not like I was blown off the court. Unfortunately, I was my own worst enemy.''
Mercifully, it lasted only 58 minutes, ending with some ticket-holders still snarled in traffic on the causeway to the island.
When Williams hit one final errant forehand on match point, Clijsters raised her arms in triumph. Williams greeted her at the net with a gracious grin.
“I felt like from the beginning I was ready to go and really seeing the ball well,'' Clijsters said. “Of course she hit a lot of easy mistakes today, so I was just really trying to not lose my rhythm.''
Clijsters also won the tournament in 2005. Andy Roddick won his second Key Biscayne title Sunday against Tomas Berdych, who upset Roger Federer en route to the final.
After retiring in 2007, Clijsters married and became a mother before returning to the tour last August. She won the U.S. Open the following month, and now has three titles in her comeback.
“What has changed for me now is whatever I do at the courts, it's almost like my time off,'' Clijsters said. “I get to come here, work out, and play my matches. It's like Mommy time. When I'm done, I'm really focused on my family life, and I like the balance.''
The crowd included her 2-year-old daughter, Jada. During the trophy ceremony, Clijsters thanked the family's nanny.
“Without her, it wouldn't be possible,'' Clijsters said with a laugh.
Serena Williams watched from the photographers' pit. She has been sidelined with a left knee injury since winning the Australian Open two months ago.
In her absence, Venus had been the hottest player on the tour with 15 consecutive wins, her longest streak since 2004. But she took the court with wraps on both legs, which clashed with her red “Can-Can'' corset _ and suggested she was less than 100 percent.
The bandage on the right thigh was familiar, but the one on her left knee was new. Williams said she may have made a mistake by practicing too much.
“Today wasn't my best day physically,'' she said. “To fight errors and not feel your best, it's a mental battle.''
Of the 55 points Clijsters won, 30 came on unforced errors by Williams. She double-faulted twice in a row. She bounced a backhand into the net, like a table tennis shot. Her balls that cleared the net made work easy for the linesmen, often sailing several feet long.
If Williams' ground strokes were bad, so was her luck _ one shot bounced off the net cord twice before landing on her side. She repeatedly was bested from the baseline, where she won nine points to 37 for Clijsters.
As the match slipped away, and the crowd groaned with each error, Williams remained impassive. After losing the 17th point in a row she slowly bent over, flexed her knees and shook her head several times, as if trying to shake out cobwebs.
She swept the next four points to trail 4-1 in the second set, but there would be no rally. Clijsters won eight of the final nine points to close out the victory.
The Belgian's steady strokes allowed her to extend rallies as long as necessary while committing only 12 unforced errors.
“Venus is a great competitor, a great athlete, and one of the best women's tennis has ever had,'' Clijsters said. “I knew I had to come out here and play well.''
Clijsters earned $700,000. She'll climb to 10th next week, the highest ranking for the former No. 1 since she returned to the tour.
“I feel that I'm hitting the ball really well,'' she said, “maybe better than I ever have.''
Pictured above is Kim Clijsters.