The American was in sensational form during the first set, proving why she has no equal in the women's game. However, Safarova crossed swords and battled with the legendary player in the second set, storming back from a huge deficit to ultimately force a decisive third set.
Williams drew first blood in the first set, playing a spectacular brand of tennis despite suffering from an illness.
The icon broke her opponent in just the fourth game of the opening gambit, as the New York Times' Ben Rothenberg described:
Williams took the first set with ease, completing the job 6-3, and it seemed she would spare the Czech no room to make a comeback with her form looking consistent early in the second set.
BBC Tennis commented on the 33-year-old's amazing performance:
Williams appeared to be cruising to the title on her own terms, but Safarova rallied and found a break point at 4-1 down. Williams then double-faulted, giving Safarova a small injection of hope.
Safarova held her serve to make it 4-3, but Williams still had the advantage of a set and a break.
Rothenberg gave Safarova credit for finding a way back into the match when it seemed as though she would collapse:
The comeback continued for the Czech as Williams' first serve again deserted her. Safarova stayed resolute and broke her serve to achieve parity at 4-4.
Safarova had no pressure on her serve and comfortably made it 5-4, as Williams began to look deflated and unhappy. Former tennis star Pam Shriver used the rally as an opportunity to explain what makes tennis so unique:
The queen of women's tennis was clearly not happy with her game at this point, constantly screaming at herself between points, with Safarova looking sprightly on the baseline. However, Williams held serve to make it 5-5, keeping the set alive.
Williams proceeded to shake the cobwebs off and slipped into a higher gear to break Safarova with ferocity and quality. It appeared the No. 1 seed would finish the match on her serve, but her suspect delivery once again let her down, allowing the Czech to take the set to a tie-break.
Safarova grabbed the first three points of the tie-break in tremendous style, with her defense close to perfection. She ultimately snatched the set with a 7-2 victory in the tie-break, sending the crowd to its feet.
The Roland Garros official Twitter feed shared the moment on social media:
The unforced errors began to flow from Williams as she looked jaded and damaged, leading Safarova to immediately break her and take the first game of the third set.
Williams' mobility was compromised as her opponent played some of the best tennis of her career. However, after Safarova went up 2-0, Williams showed her experience to break her opponent and tie the third set at two games apiece.
Williams then broke her opponent's serve again to make it a four-game winning streak.
The world's best player dragged herself over the line as the Czech battled until the last point. Williams ultimately won the third set 6-2 to secure her third career French Open title.
ESPN highlighted Williams' achievement:
At the conclusion of the final, tennis blogger Matt Zemek spoke about Williams' dominance of tennis, while ESPN's Jane McManus began looking forward to the champion's Wimbledon campaign:
"This is by far the most dramatic [major title I've won]," Williams told NBC's Mary Carillo after the match (via ESPN.com), "I didn't even train yesterday, I've had the flu ... it's just been a nightmare."
Safarova proved why she is such a highly rated talent, but she simply did not have the answers to Williams' best shots in the closing stages.
The match represented Safarova's greatest performance on a tennis court, and against any other opponent, she likely would have grabbed the championship. It gives the Czech player quite a boost as Wimbledon approaches, and she's sure to use her strong offensive game to make a deep run in England.
However, Serena found a way—as she always does—and she deservedly claimed her 20th Grand Slam title as a result. The win sets Williams up nicely as we head into the grass-court season, and she'll enter Wimbledon as the hands-down favorite to take her third Grand Slam of 2015.