By Sophie Brown
BBC Sport at Wimbledon
Venus Williams said her rocky start to this year's Wimbledon helped her beat Marion Bartoli to win her fourth title.
Bartoli and Williams enjoy a joke at the presentation ceremony
The American 23rd seed scraped through two of her early matches 7-5 in the final set but found her form in the latter stages of the tournament.
"The other (titles) I felt like I was playing championship form from minute one," said the 27-year-old.
"But here I really had to focus on my game and overcome a lot of challenges. I'm very tired but I feel fantastic."
Williams had been a break down in the final set in her first-round match against Alla Kudryavtseva and also in her third-round tie with Akiko Morigami, whose style she said was similar to Bartoli's.
She said: "By the time I played Bartoli, I was ready for those short, flat, low balls. I had already seen that shot.
"Playing Morigami helped me out today."
She served 120mph on first serve - sometimes it was hurting my wrists because the ball was coming so fast to me
It was Williams' sixth Grand Slam win and puts her just two behind younger sister Serena.
"We motivate each other to get more," said Venus.
"When I saw her win in Australia (the first Grand Slam of the year) I just knew I could do it here. We just love each other and inspire each other like that."
Williams is the first women's champion to benefit from the All England Club's decision to offer equal prize money to the male and female winners and she said that made victory even more special.
"It was the right thing to do," said the 23rd seed, who paid tribute to equal rights champion Billie Jean King after her victory on Centre Court.
"It was just very important for us. We're role models around the world."
Tomorrow I won't be that disappointed because I realise what I have achieved, which is awesome
Bartoli said that Williams' power had been too much for her handle.
"I really tried my best. Venus just played some unbelievable tennis," said the 22-year-old.
"She served 120mph on first serve - sometimes it was hurting my wrists because the ball was coming so fast to me.
"I think I played a great match but in the end she was just too good. It's just not possible to beat her when she plays like this on grass.
"But I think I showed everybody what I was able to do on the tennis court."
The French player, who delighted the Centre Court crowd with her good-natured display, was tearful at the end of the match and admitted she had been desperate to win.
"I wanted this title so bad," said the world number 19.
"For me to win this trophy and hold it in my hand is the best reward you could ever imagine in tennis. Wimbledon is so special because of all the tradition.
"I really hate to lose. Of course tomorrow I won't be that disappointed because I realise what I have achieved, which is awesome.
"Right now, because I wanted it so bad, yes, of course I'm disappointed."