Serena Superior; Wins Wimbledon and 11th Grand Slam Title
July 4, 2009 -- They really are the best. And each is the others strongest competitive threat. Today on Centre Court, little sister Serena Williams served better. It was her superior measure for the win -- her third Wimbledon Ladies' Singles Championship and her eleventh Grand Slam title.
Serena Williams' brashly efficient serves, her penetrating groundstrokes, and her unyielding conviction of her ability to win carried her through the two set match. As it wore on, Venus showed signs of wear. She fell three times on the slippery grass outside the dusty baseline. Her face revealed an internal struggle -- her mind working to solve the Serena conundrum. Venus looked young and vulnerable, even though the years disclose a different reality.
"This is one of the few times I didn't expect to come out with the win," Serena said. "I felt like I had nothing to lose. I felt like all I had to do is go out there and do my best, just stay even, because she's such a good player."
In the first set Venus had two break chances in the eighth game. At 15/40, Serena saved one break point with an unreturnable serve. She saved the next one with an ace. At 40-all, Venus committed an error. At advantage Serena, she hit an ace. It was 4-games all. It was the last time Venus saw a break point.
"I went for too much," Venus said, about her second break point. "I don't think she was recovering and I thought she was gonna be there. So, yeah, basically just went for a little too much."
At 5-games all in the same set, Serena tried her best to break. Rallies were extended and each player drawn wide on one point, their shots first down the line then cross court making a figure-eight pattern on Centre Court. Finally, the unforced error from Venus. But she collected herself, sending two unreturnable serves into Serena's body. And then, Venus won the game with an ace.
It was in the tiebreak that Serena's measure of excellence rose to the surface, and Venus's serve faltered. Venus hit one unreturnable serve, one forceful return of serve, and got another point when Serena committed an error off her forehand. Those were her three points.
"When I won that first set, I was like, Wow, this is great," Serena said. "No matter what, I'm a set away. So I was just trying to relax."
In her relaxed state Serena she pounded second serves. Hit three forehand winners. And on set point, she amazed everyone with a backhand topspin lob that caught the baseline and, of course, cleared Venus's six-foot-two-inch frame.
In the sixth game of the second set, Serena saw her first break point. She didn't have to work for the conversion, either. Venus double faulted. The match would soon be over.
"I definitely would have liked to have moved forward," Venus began. "When I had the short balls, they were low and it's hard to come in on those and actually hit an effective shot and come in."
Venus tried to make Serena serve out the match at 2/5. Down 0/30, Venus evened the game at 30-all with an overhead smash. She would hit one more overhead winner to stave off her loss.
On her fourth championship point, though, Serena sent a return of serve to her sister's feet and Venus didn't get under the ball enough to lift it over the net. The match went to Serena Williams 76 (3) 62.
Serena Williams juiced up her serve early in the match. At the end of the first set she had 8 aces. She had won 95% of the points when her first serve went in and 64% of the points when her second serve counted. At the net, she was four for four. The momentum was tremendously in her favor.
She accelerated everything in set two, maintaining a 91% first-serve percentage and an 86% on second serves. Her second serve proved as effective as her first. With Venus's unforced errors on the rise and outstripping winners, Serena crowded big sister Venus off her home court.
Had Venus been able to get her serve back on track, the match would have turned. However, she did not. Her head dropped before she contacted the ball on her serves, a hitch she grooves when struggling. With her serve hampered, her ground game suffered and then her confidence slowly eroded by the combination.
"I think towards the end I was too far behind the baseline," Venus began. "I did realize that, but at that point I guess, you know, it was a little deep into the match."
Serena Williams now has eleven Grand Slam titles, with her win today, and three Venus Rosewater Platters. She is 11-10 against her sister, now, too. The contributions she has made to the sport are difficult, or impossible, to articulate. Her own career and the heights it might reach are points for her to contemplate. Will she be the greatest ever?
"That would be a great legacy," Serena said. "I'm really just playing for me, whether I'm the greatest or not. I can't even put myself in a sentence with the greatest because I think of people like Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf and Billy Jean King. They were great champions. To even be mentioned with those people is a real honor to me."
Earlier Columns from this Event:
July 3, 2009 Wimbledon Coverage: The Other Andy Wins; Federer into Seventh Straight Wimbledon Final
July 2, 2009 Wimbledon Coverage: Williams's Conquer Center Court, Again
July 1, 2009 Wimbledon Coverage: Roddick to Play Murray in Semifinals; Federer to Play Haas
June 30, 2009 Wimbledon Coverage: Oh Those Bad Bounces
June 29, 2009 Wimbledon Coverage: The Wise and Experienced - Roof or No Roof
June 28, 2009 Wimbledon Coverage: Sunday... A Day of Rest
June 27, 2009 Wimbledon Coverage: Qualifier Oudin Ousts J. J., Lisicki Downs Kuznetsova
June 26, 2009 Wimbledon Coverage: As The Draw Turns
June 25, 2009 Wimbledon Coverage: Hewitt Takes Charge as Murray Rolls
June 24, 2009 Wimbledon Coverage: Young and Old Compete at Wimbledon
June 23, 2009 Wimbledon Coverage: Sunny Wimbledon
June 22, 2009 Wimbledon Coverage: Wimbledon... The Perfect Grand Slam