Saturday’s 6-4, 6-4 victory over Garbine Muguruza in the Wimbledon final unleashed a load of statistical updates and numerical superlatives.
She wasn’t always seen as a world-class problem-solver: Early in her career Serena and older sister Venus were considered ball bashers of the highest regard.
She is also the oldest ever Grand Slam victor in the Open Era.
“I feel I’m more fit and can do more than 10-12 years ago”, said Williams, who won a “Serena Slam” in 2002-03.
“I got so much better after that loss. I’ve never dreamt that I would still be out here playing and winning Wimbledon“.
It was a voice that Williams heard loud and clear, however, and brought about a kind of tennis played by a female athlete so experienced and knowledgeable, but with a youthful zest not really seen before on a tennis court.
“Martina Navratilova won 167 WTA events, I won , Serena’s won 67”, Evert said. She’s world number one.
“I couldn’t stop crying,” Muguruza said.
Muguruza attempted to leave London with the confidence to turn defeat in her maiden grand slam final into victory next time out.
Indeed it was Williams who made the more nervous start, hitting three double faults as she dropped her serve in a tense opening game. “She doesn’t have a challenger”, Davenport said. Maybe a little after that I started thinking about New York… And with the pressure ratcheted up, the inevitable Serena break back arrived in the eighth game when Muguruza missed with a wild forehand. Muguruza saved a match point at 5-3 with a forehand victor after Williams escaped from 0-40 with a barrage of thumping serves – yet was broken to love in the next game. Muguruza’s first double fault at 4-5 set up a set point, which Williams duly converted.
She was totally dominant until, serving at 5-1, she was broken to love. Muguruza landed four break-point opportunities.
The Spaniard simply would not lie down, however, and broke back twice, going toe-to-toe with Williams from the back of the court and swinging her racket to brutal effect.
“She will be holding this trophy very, very soon”, the American said in a courtside tribute to the scrapping Spaniard. “So many people were clapping”. I was like, I don’t know.
It has been a Wimbledon full of challenges for Williams, who captures a 68th career title.
It seemed one-way traffic for Williams in the second set.
As in the first set, reality then returned.
Overall, it was the 21st major title for Williams, one shy of Graf’s Open era record. “I didn’t even know it was over because she was fighting so hard”.
Serena also is now three-fourths of the way to a calendar-year Grand Slam, needing to win the US Open later this summer to accomplish that feat.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion broke Garbine Muguruza to even the score at 4-4 in the first set.
Williams doesn’t appear to be slowing down, however.
Agnieszka Radwanska’s coach said his player “wants to be a woman” and at 5 feet 8, 123 pounds that they’d made a “decision to keep her as the smallest player in the top 10″.
Prior to the Wimbledon finals Saturday, ESPN’s Chris Fowler was setting the stage for the match and raved about Williams’ training.
What makes her tally of 21 grand slam titles so remarkable is that eight have come after she turned 30, with no sign that her ability to pummel much younger opponents is on the wane.