ROME - Serena Williams kept the crowd from being a factor in a 6-3 6-0 victory over 10th-seeded Sara Errani to win the Italian Open for the third time.
Errani was bidding to become the first Italian to win the tournament in nearly 30 years but the top-ranked Williams quickly took control in both sets.
Errani left the court for an injury timeout while trailing 5-3 in the opening set and came back with her thigh bandaged.
On the final point before she left the court, Errani pulled up and let a shot from Williams pass by her without even attempting to get to it.
"I'm sorry. You were unbelievable all week," Errani told fans during the victory ceremony, as she brushed back tears. "I tried to do my best and stayed on the court only for you."
Williams' other Rome titles came in 2002 and last year — and she went on to win the French Open on both occasions.
"I'm also sorry for Sara today," Williams told the crowd in Italian. "She really played great all week."
A left thigh problem prompted Williams to withdraw before her quarterfinal match at the Madrid Open last week but now she appears back on track for the French.
Organisers attempted to whip up patriotic fervour by having the Italian anthem sung before the players walked out onto the court, and fans continuously chanted "Sara, Sara" to try and encourage Errani in an atmosphere that more resembled a Davis Cup or Fed Cup setting.
But Williams jumped out to a 3-0 lead and while Errani had a few chances to get back into the first set, Williams overpowered the Italian with her serve — she had seven aces to Errani's none — and overall attacking game.
Later, seven-time champion Rafael Nadal was facing Novak Djokovic in a 1 vs. 2 meeting in the men's final of the last key clay-court tune up for Roland Garros, which starts next weekend.