"I definitely think I survived," she said, after notching a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Vandeweghe, ESPN
reported. "I don't think I played my greatest. But I do think I was mentally there, and that helped me out a lot."
Having her father, Richard, in the stands, also helped her.
"I haven't won a tournament without him or my mom here," she said about her dad, who traveled from Europe to see her. "I just felt like I didn't want to go out (without him)."
Held on Stanford University’s campus, the Bank of the West Classic, one of the oldest women-only professional tennis tournaments in the world, holds a lot of meaning for Williams. It was the place where her comeback began to take shape last year.
The 2011 Bank of the West Classic was just Williams' third tournament since returning to the WTA after a year-long absence from suffering life-threatening blood clots in her lungs that almost ended her career -- and her life. Ranked No.169 at the time, Williams went all the way to win the title, WTA
Now a year later, ranked No. 4 in the world, Williams did it all over again, becoming the first repeat Bank of the West Classic champion since Kim Clijsters (2005, 2006), the tournament
press release said.
"I've never felt this fit, this strong, this happy to play - and I think I can be even better," Williams said, dressed in a lime green and black outfit.
Just eight days after winning her fifth Wimbledon single title, 30-year-old Williams raced past her 20-year-old competitor, nailing 21 winners in one hour and 27 minutes. Vandeweghe struck 20 winners but also committed 25 unforced errors, the New York Times
Appearing in her first career singles final, the young American moved the 14-time Grand Slam champion all over the court to give Williams her only real challenge of the week.
"I fought hard to get back in the game after that, but in the end it didn't go my way," she added.
Williams complimented her competitor. "I think Coco played really well today. She has a really strong, solid game," she said, after the final.
But Williams wanted to win, too. "I was fighting out there. I wanted it."
Williams’ trademark serve proved to be a key weapon, resulting in nine aces and connecting on 67.0 percent of her first serves. It was the 43rd WTA Tour championship of Williams' career, tying older sister Venus for the most among active players.
"I want to sustain this momentum and build on what I did at Wimbledon. I'm going to get back on the grass now for the Olympics - I'm not sure when I'm heading back to London, but I'll do it as soon as I can," Williams said.
The London Olympics begins July 28 on Wimbledon's grass. Serena and Venus won gold in doubles in 2000 and 2008 and will go for a third again this year, according to ESPN.
While Venus took home gold in singles in 2000, Serena has never medaled on her own and refuses to be pressured.
"A gold medal will mean a lot to me, but I can't lay all my hopes and dreams on that," she said.