Serena Williams’ fourth Wimbledon title and her 13th Grand Slam singles championship moves her ahead of Billie Jean King into sixth place on the all-time women’s Grand Slam list.
By Michael Brown
Sentinel Contributing Writer
Shortly after smashing a powerful overhead shot beyond the reach of her Russian opponent, Vera Zvonareva, Serena Williams tossed her tennis racket into the air and yelled exuberantly, knowing she had just sealed back-to-back Wimbledon singles titles.
The winner’s circle at Centre Court in Wimbledon, England, was a familiar scene to tennis fans worldwide who have became accustomed to seeing either Serena or Venus Williams hoist the ironically named Venus Rosewater Dish above their heads in victory. The Williams sisters have won nine of the past 11 titles at Wimbledon.
Williams’ utter dominance during the championship match served as a microcosm of her overall performance throughout the tournament as opponents rarely put up much resistance to her overpowering play and crushing serve. First-time finalist Zvonareva was easily defeated in the June 3 match, 6-3, 6-2, in a mere 67 minutes, giving Williams her fourth Wimbledon title and her 13th major overall.
From the outset Williams pummeled Zvonareva, who had defeated two former No. 1 ranked players to reach the final, by exacting both a power and finesse style at times. Williams, who had previously beaten Zvonareva in five of six matches, two of them in majors, frustrated her opponent early by harnessing her signature 120 mph serve, enabling her to barely touch the lines for scores. This led to Zvonareva challenging the results through the electronic line-judging system, often for naught.
When Williams wasn’t picking her challenger a part, she reared back and unleashed a serve that Zvonareva was unable to handle, and she could not even manage a break point against for the entire match. In fact, Williams lost only two points on her first serve and gained praise from tennis legends in the process.
Martina Navratilova, who was in attendance, called Williams’ serve the best she has ever seen. Former champion Mary Joe Fernandez agreed. She said, “Impeccable, just impressive, once again, the way she’s able to dominate with the best (serve) we’ve ever seen in tennis. It’s very hard for someone to compete (against her), time in, time out.”
In an interview with Wimbledon.org after the match, Williams downplayed the acclaim she elicits for her serve by saying that she and Venus while practicing against each other, never get caught up in the hype. Williams called her serve “consistent” in the under statement of the year perhaps.
Williams “consistent” serve and overall game merged and aided her impressive run through Wimbledon. After Venus was bounced in the quarterfinals and the Williams sisters failed to win their fifth consecutive Grand Slam doubles title, Williams rebounded and continued to show why she is the No. 1 ranked singles player in the world.
In addition to winning all 14 sets that she played in at a tournament for the second time in her career (First: U.S. Open, 2002), William’ seven-match record total of 89 aces was 59 more than anyone else. The win also gave her two of three Grand Slams so far this year, as she also nabbed the Australian Open singles title in January. The Williams sisters also won Grand Slam doubles titles at Australia and the Roland Garros tournament, respectively.
Winning another Grand Slam also helped push Williams, who honed her skills in Compton, past another elite Southern Californian tennis player, Billie Jean King (Long Beach Poly High School), into sixth place on the all-time women’s list, 13 Grand Slams to 12.
In fact, the historical significance was acknowledged by Williams after the match in comments she made on the court toward the Royal Box where King was sitting.
“This is No. 13,” Williams said, looking up at an applauding King. “Billie, I got you!. Thirteen is my lucky number,” she said to the woman she has publicly called her idol.
At 28-years-old, Williams may be able to perform at a high level for several more years barring injury and making a run at fellow Americans Chris Evert and Navratilova, who both won 18 Grand Slams.
King heaped praise on Williams in an L.A. Times interview after the tournament. “If she keeps going, she could become the greatest,” she said. “In the last two years Serena has made a total commitment to breaking some records. I think she could go quite a long time if she pays the price and stays fit.”
Despite the universal accolades being tossed her way, Williams, who didn’t participate in a warm-up tournament prior to Wimbledon, as is customary, hinted that she had room for improvement and struggled in earlier matches.
“I honestly didn’t think I was playing my best,” Williams told Wimbledon.org. “I felt my strokes were off, especially in the first week when I just felt (in practice mode). But (during that practice mode), I just felt like I was connecting late. I don’t know. I’m just really happy to have gotten through that.”
On August 30 in Flushing Meadows, New York, the Williams sisters will have an opportunity to win the U.S. Open Grand Slam. If Serena wins, it will be her third Slam this year and fourth U.S. Open overall. Venus will be attempting to win her third U.S. Open overall.