Wimbledon 2010 was the ultimate major Serena Williams captured before being sidelined by a foot injury which led to other health complications and a year hiatus from tennis. Today, Williams came full circle by winning her first major since rejoining the tour last June. At the All England Club, Williams defeated world number three Agnieszka Radwanska in the final 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 for a fifth trophy at The Championships and her 14th major overall.
Facing an opponent who is in her maiden major final, Williams had to guard against the desire to phone in the victory. In 2004, Williams, the runaway favorite, was stunned by newcomer Maria Sharapova in the Wimbledon final.
This scenario was repeated in the 2011 U.S. Open final as Samantha Stosur overpowered Williams. Consequently, from the outset, Williams took Radwanska seriously.
Subsequent to a comfortable game to open the proceedings, Williams fabricated break point with a backhand down the line return winner. But, Radwanska overcame that test.
But, by relentlessly attacking, Williams had her third break point with a forehand crosscourt return winner. When Radwanska’s forehand up the line landed wide, Williams secured the break.
Later, with a nice forehand dropshot winner, Williams consolidated for 3-0. By obtaining a second break and prompt hold, Williams sprinted to a 5-0 lead.
Despite Radwanska saving two break points to escape a bagel in the first set, with an ace, Williams again had set point. Quickly, as Radwanska’s return traveled wide, Williams banked the set.
Due to rain, the match was delayed momentarily. When the players returned, Radwanska swiftly held to begin the second set.
At 1 all, Williams pulverized a backhand crosscourt return winner to arrive at triple break point. She converted when Radwanska dumped a backhand into the net. Next, Williams consolidated for a 3-1 advantage.
In the second set though, Williams’ first serve percentage dipped and as the miscues piled up, Radwanska stayed a sole break behind. Serving at 4-3, Williams gifted Radwanska her first break point opportunity. When Williams misfired with a backhand up the line, Radwanska leveled the set at 4 a piece.
Later, serving to push the set into a tiebreaker, down 15-40, Williams made her second successive backhand errors to hand Radwanska the set.
In the third, Williams’ primary order of business was to cut down on the mistakes. After failing to convert on three break points in Radwanska’s first two service games, Williams fabricated a fourth chance with a forehand winner in the fifth game.
As Radwanska’s backhand sailed long, Williams captured the break for 3-2. Cruising on serve, Williams widened the gap to 4-2.
Promptly, a backhand return crosscourt winner found Williams at triple break point. Somehow, Radwanska dug herself out of that hole.
But, when at deuce Radwanska netted a backhand, Williams had another opportunity to grab the match by the throat. With a sensational forehand dropshot winner, Williams seized the break and a 5-2 lead.
By thumping an un-returnable serve, Williams had double championship point. Williams crushed a backhand down the line winner and fell to the lawn expressing her elation at claiming her fifth title at the All England Club.
As the first Polish player since 1939 to reach a major final, Radwanska is proud of that achievement. Moreover, maximizing her skills despite an upper respiratory illness, Radwanska forced Williams earn the title.
Radwanska described the fortnight as “the best two weeks of my life. . . I am happy to have been in the final. . . I have great memories here especially winning junior Wimbledon. . .It wasn’t my day, I will try next year”.
An overjoyed Williams was grateful to once again be at this stage “I can’t described [how I feel]. . . All those moments being on my couch, praying, I didn’t think I’d play tennis again. I just wanted to live. . . Thank you everyone in my box, I could never have made it without you”.
The victory was well contested and Williams showed respect for her counterpart saying “Agie is an amazing player” and asked the crowd for “another round of applause” for Radwanska.
Williams is ecstatic that she has as many Wimbledon trophies as her sister “I’ve always wanted everything that Venus has”. Later today, Venus and she will attempt to pocket their fifth doubles title at this venue.
Prior to this afternoon, Martina Navratilova’s 1990 victory at Wimbledon represented the ultimate time a 30 something hoisted the trophy at a major. In finals at majors, Williams improved her record to 14-4.
Third on the list of most major titles in the Open Era, Williams needs four more to catch up with Chris Evert and Navratilova’s 18. If she can keep the form she has demonstrated of late, particularly with the dominating serve, it is doable.
On Monday, Williams’ ranking will go from six to four. Victoria Azarenka, whom Williams beat in the semifinals, will replace Sharapova at number one while Radwanska will rise to number two.