By Randy Walker
Serena Williams completed one of the most devastating displays of serving ever seen at a major tennis tournament Saturday, defeating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 to win her fifth Wimbledon women’s singles title.
Williams fired 17 aces passed Radwanska to finish her run through the tournament with 102, setting a new Wimbledon women’s standard for aces during a fortnight. She lost only eight points when she got her first serve in all afternoon and had one service game – the fourth game of the third set when trailing 1-2 – where she served four straight aces, the fourth ace of the game being her 100th for the tournament. Williams did not lose another game the rest of the match.
Tennis historian Steve Flink, in his new book THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME, ranks the Williams first serve as the best women’s first serve in the history of tennis.
“Watching Serena Williams serve when she is in peak form is astonishing,” wrote Flink in THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME (available here:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0942257936?ie=UTF8&tag=newchapre-20&linkCode=shr&camp=213733&creative=393185&creativeASIN=0942257936&ref_=sr_1_1&keywords=Greatest%20tennis%20matches%20of%20all%20time&qid=1341504389&sr=8-1) “Her motion is the most natural of any woman player I have ever seen. Her toss is reliable, her velocity impressive, her ability to rack up free points ever apparent. It is a daunting first serve, delivered with power and panache. As the serve goes, so goes Serena Williams.”
Williams lost her serve two times in the match, however, serving at 4-3 in the second set and down 5-6 in the second set to lose the set. In her semifinal win over Victoria Azarenka on Thursday, Willliams fired a new Wimbledon record 24 aces in her 6-3, 7-6 (6) victory, breaking the record she set when hitting 23 aces in her 6-7, 6-2, 9-7 third-round win over Jie Zheng of China. Williams served 89 aces in winning Wimbledon in 2010, the previous women’s record for aces during a tournament at Wimbledon, according to THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS (available here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/094 …)
The win was the 14th major singles title for Williams, who trails now by four majors both Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova (18 majors each) for fourth place all time in major singles titles won by a woman in a career. Margaret Court holds the all-time record with 24 major singles titles. The 30-year-old Williams also became the first woman over age 30 to win the Wimbledon women’s singles title since 33-year-old Martina Navratilova won her ninth singles title at the AELTC in 1990.
Williams streaked to win the first five games of the match before Radwanska, appearing in her first major singles title, settled down. The match was then delayed for 20 minutes due to a brief rain shower. Williams broke Radwanska’s serve in the third game of the second set and appeared on her way to breeze to the title. However, Radwanska stayed tough and took advance of increased errors from Williams, likely due to nerves being so close to the title, and broke Williams back two times to even the match at one set all. After Radwanska held serve for a 2-1 lead in the final set, Williams won the last five games of the match.
Radwanska, seed No. 3 and ahead of Williams at No. 6, was the first Pole since Jadwiga Jedrzejowka in 1937 to reach the Wimbledon final. If she had beaten Williams, Radwanska would have moved to No 1 in the world rankings, but instead Azarenka will move to that ranking, replacing Maria Sharapova. Williams will move to the No. 4 ranking.
“I can’t even describe it. I almost didn’t make it,” said Williams post-match, discussing her health problems, depression and near-death experience over the last two years since she last won Wimbledon in 2010.”A few years ago, you know, I was in the hospital, and now I’m here again. It’s so worth it, and I’m so happy.”
Williams entered Wimbledon this year after a shock first-round upset in the first round of the French Open last month to Virginie Razzano. She returned to tennis last summer after a year off the circuit after suffering from a serious foot injury, sustained while cutting her foot on a broken glass at a restaurant in Germany in July of 2010. She also suffered from a near-fatal hematoma and pulmonary embolism last year.
“I never dreamt of being here again, being so down,” Williams said. “Never give up. You can continue.”
Here’s how the day unfolded via my Twitter feed from my @TennisPublisher Twitter handle. For those not too familiar with twitter the “@” is someone’s Twitter handle – or profile – and “RT” means that a tweet is “Re-Tweeted.”
8:00 am One-hour pre-game show for Wimbledon women’s final starting now on ESPN now…
8:05 am “Her game blossomed. We are looking at a new Serena Williams,” Chris Evert on ESPN on Serena’s 2nd week Wimbledon form
8:05 am RT @Wimbledon #Wimbledon 2012 is the 48th Grand Slam Serena Williams has contested and Agnieszka Radwanska’s 25th.
8:06 am “You are scared,” Mary Joe Fernandez on what it is like to have to play against the Serena Williams power. #Wimbledon
8:11 am “Titanic: The Tennis Story” Narrates Possibly Greatest Tennis Story Ever http://www.worldtennismagazine.com/archives/6547
8:20 am Wojtek Fibak, the great Polish men’s tennis player, reached the Wimbledon men’s quarterfinals in 1980, his best finish at SW19
8:24 am “I hope your tennis game is better than your golf game,” John McEnroe to Charles Barkley on ESPN
8:29 am “I am a serve and volleyer,” said Charles Barkley on his tennis game, on ESPN set, saying he played a lot of tennis as a kid
8:33 am “It’s awesome. I can cross it off my bucket list,” Charles Barkley on ESPN on being at Wimbledon
8:34 am “It sucks” said Charles Barkley on ESPN on what it’s like to be a great athlete, like Murray, and not have a championship (or major title)
8:36 am “It’s an expensive sport. The equipment is expensive. Racquets and balls are expensive.” Barkley on why tennis isn’t a more popular sport
8:41 am “It is the most dominant shot in both the men’s and women’s game” – Mary Joe Fernandez on ESPN on the Serena Williams serve#Wimbledon
8:45 am The Serena Williams serve is rated No. 1 in tennis history by Steve Flink in “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0942257936?ie=UTF8&tag=newchapre-20&linkCode=shr&camp=213733&creative=393185&creativeASIN=0942257936&ref_=sr_1_1&keywords=The%20Greatest%20tennis%20matches%20of%20all%20time&qid=1341665048&sr=8-1
8:46 am Steve Flink actually rates Samantha Stosur’s second serve No. 1 above Serena’s in THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME
8:48 am “She could be feeling anything from sick to her stomach to strangely confident,” ESPN’s Pam Shriver on what Radwanska is feeling now
8:53 am ESPN’s Chris Evert said Radwanska needs to hope roof stays open, it gets blustery, and for her to hit slices, dropshots, get SW off baseline
8:54 am “Serena has to just keep up her serving,” Chris Evert on ESPN
8:59 am A secret look at Serena and Venus Williams at age 12, 13, from @WorldTennisMag http://www.worldtennismagazine.com/archives/7121 #Wimbledon
9:01 am “How the heck am I going to return the Serena Williams serve,” Chris Evert on ESPN on what Radwanska is probably thinking right now
9:01 am “There is no other court in the world like Centre Court. Dick Enberg used to call it the tennis cathedral,” Chris Evert on ESPN
9:03 am Serena wins toss. Elects to serve. “Is there any surprise?” says Chris Fowler on ESPN
9:06 am RT @vblacklabel Wonder if Nike has put a Serena “14″ trenchcoat in her bag, just in case?
9:08 am “A commanding hold for Serena” says Chris Fowler on ESPN. 1-0 for Williams.
9:13 am A drop shot for Radwanska on her first shot in her first service game….Serena tracks it down, wins point….
9:22 am “It is going to be a crusade for Radwanska to hold serve today,” says Chris Fowler on ESPN. Serena eventually breaks serve for 2-0.
9:25 am Serena needs 5 aces today to break her own Wimbledon tourney record. She hit a record 89 aces in 2010, from BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS
9:28 am RT @TennisNewsTPN Serena 3-0 hits fh dropper to close out game
9:32 am Rod Laver says in this book, the most important point in each game is the first one “The Education of a Tennis Player” http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0942257626?ie=UTF8&tag=tennisgrancom-20&linkCode=shr&camp=213733&creative=393185&creativeASIN=0942257626&qid=1336920533&ref_=sr_1_3&sr=8-3
9:34 am “Radwanska looks rattled here…just trying to get on the board here,” says Chris Evert on ESPN. Serena breaks again for 4-0 lead
9:36 am RT @DaveESPNPR “You start 2B embarrassed when you’re being beaten so soundly…at some pt Radwanska has to get angry w/herself.” - @ChrissieEvert
9:39 am 1911 Wimbledon women’s final Dorothea Douglas Chambers defeated Dora Boothby 6-0, 6-0
9:45 am No Breakfast at Wimbledon bagel. Radwanska holds. Serena serves for first set at 6-1.
9:47 am “Just beginning to pick up, the rain now,” says Chris Fowler on ESPN. “We are on the brink of a rain delay here.”
9:49 am Service winner for Serena and she takes the first set 6-1. Three aces for Serena in the first set, 88 now for the tournament. #Wimbledon
9:51 am Serena wins 36-minute first set, finishes off with ace, service winner. And, it’s raining. Roof break?
9:52 am 1st major final played indoors was 1988 Australian Open. Roof was closed with Graf leading Evert 2-1 in the first set www.TennisHistoryBook.com
9:56 am @christophclarey Graf vs. Evert 1988 Australian final had 90-minute delay to decide to close roof/and to close roof. Match stopped at 2-1
9:57 am Roof not being closed because officials believe it will only be a brief shower, says Mike Tirico on ESPN
10:04 am July 7, 2007: No. 31 Venus Williams beats No. 20 Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-1 to win #Wimbledon women’s title, her fourth. www.TennisHistoryBook.com
10:08 am “The rain came at a good time because she was getting blitzed,” says Chris Evert on ESPN.on Radwanska
10:13 am July 7, 1978: @Martina Navratilova wins first #Wimbledon, first major singles title, beats Chris Evert 26 64 75 www.TennisHistoryBook.com
10:18 am 5 aces for Serena, that’s 90 for the tourney, 1 better than her 2010 #Wimbledon record total, according to BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS
10:19 am “Batting practice” says Chris Fowler on ESPN as she breaks Radwanska for 2-1 lead in second set #Wimbledon
10:22 am “What can you do about that!” says Chris Fowler on ESPN as Serena fires seventh ace
10:25 am @USTA_TimCurry That is…if she is selected for mixed!
10:29 am Goran Ivanisevic fired a record 212 aces in winning #Wimbledon in 2001, from THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS
10:30 am “This is totally in Serena’s hands,” says Chris Evert as she leads Radwanska 6-1, 3-2, serving, but Aga as 0-30 crack on SW serve.
10:32 am nerves @dougrobson First serve dipping a bit for Serena. Energy too? All that dubs catching up to her? #wimbledon
10:33 am Eighth ace for Serena as she wins four points in a row from 0-30 down, she leads 4-2
10:37 am Serena admitted to having some nerves being up a set and break against Azarenka in the semis. Let’s see what happens here. SW up 6-1, 4-3
10:41 am 10th ace for Serena
10:44 am Break point for Radwanka – first in the match
10:45 am Serena pushes forehand long and is broken for the first time…. 4-4 in the second set.
10:46 am RT @bgtennisnation nice fightback from Agi Rad now can put some scoreboard pressure on SW
10:49 am “Radwanska in front…for once,” says Chris Fowler as she holds to lead 5-4 in second set. Nerves settling in for Serena.
10:51 am “She was aiming for the press up there,” Chris Evert on ESPN as Serena smashes overhead well into the Centre Court stands.
10:52 am Radwanska’s first-Slam-final nerves have been transferred and transformed into Serena’s closing-out-first-major-in-two years nerves
10:53 am “She can play defense too,” says Chris Fowler on ESPN as Williams hit backhand down the line passing shot to hold for 5-5 in second set.
10:54 am “Radwanska now showing why she is No. 3 in the world and has won three titles this year,” says Chris Fowler on ESPN.
10:55 am “Now Serena must hold to force a second-set tie-break,” says Chris Fowler on ESPN as Radwanska holds for 6-5 in the second set.
10:57 am Serena is so nervous…this has a real shot at going three sets… 0-30
10:59 am Four errors for Serena in her service game as she misses another backhand into the net. Radwanska wins the second set 7-5.
11:01 am Serena missed a swinging volley, two backhand unforced errors and a double fault and is broken to lose the set….nerves.
11:04 am Serena Williams has a break point in opening game of third set, but Williams misses lob long
11:05 am “This game sets the tone for the third set,” says Chris Evert on ESPN. Unforced errors piling up for Serena Williams.
11:06 am “Radwanska passes a crucial test,” says Chris Fowler on ESPN as the Pole holds for 1-0 in the third set.
11:07 am “The no pace balls are giving Serena more problems,” says Chris Evert on ESPN.
11:08 am RT @Becker_Boris Radwanska getting better…come on Serena !!!
11:11 am “A more controlled game that time,” says Chris Fowler as Serena holds serve for 1-1 in the third set.
11:12 am RT @darrenrovell Radwanska takes 2nd set from SERENA. Lexus is happy. Did a patch deal with Radwanska for Wimbledon.
11:12 am RT @newballsplease ‘Champions adjust,’ says Lindsay Davenport. Great defence and volleys from Serena.
11:13 am Double fault for Radwanska after a bad unforced error. 15-40 for Serena. The Pole fights off first BP with a strong forehand
11:14 am Backhand winner for Radwanska as she saves second BP
11:16 am “A big underdog in this match…hanging on,” says ESPN’s Chris Fowler as Radwanska wins four points in a row from 15-40 down, holds for 2-1.
11:16 am RT @Ringham7 Whether or not she wins today, we’re seeing a GS champ in making here. Good match player, calm in crisis & 15-40 was a crisis for Rad
11:17 am RT @jon_wertheim Serena in 501(c)(3) mode with all these mid-rally gifts…2-1 aggie
11:18 am “Four for four!” says Chris Fowler on ESPN. Serena belts four aces to hold for 2-2. 100 aces now for Serena in the tournament.
11:19 am 15 aces today for Serena
11:23 am “Serena is in front again…can she keep the lead this time?” says Chris Fowler on ESPN, as Serena breaks Radwanska for 3-2 lead in 3rd set.
11:24 am RT @vblacklabel The American tennis mentality is so focused on power, aces, that many miss that what Radwanska does can be ridiculously effective
11:25 am “I have to admit that I didn’t think that Radwanska would give her this tough of a match,” says Chris Evert on ESPN.
11:27 am ‘The finish line is close,” says Chris Fowler on ESPN as Serena holds for a 4-2 lead in the third set.
11:28 am Serena Williams 1st serve rated No. 1 all time by Steve Flink in hew book “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0942257936?ie=UTF8&tag=newchapre-20&linkCode=shr&camp=213733&creative=393185&creativeASIN=0942257936&ref_=sr_1_1&keywords=The%20Greatest%20tennis%20matches%20of%20all%20time&qid=1341674760&sr=8-1
11:28 am 0-40 for Serena. If she can get this insurance, second break, it will help her nerves…
11:30 am Radwanska keeps fighting…staves off 0-40 hole
11:31 am Serena shows her touch, hits forehand drop shot winner to break serve, leads 5-2.
11:33 am “Now the most dominant serve in the history of women’s tennis is one hold away from the Wimbledon title,” says Chris Fowler on ESPN.
11:34 am 17th ace from Serena today…
11:36 am “Serena Williams…Champion at Wimbledon again” Chris Fowler says on ESPN as she hits a backhand inside out winner to clinch it.
11:37 am “Serena pulling a Pat Cash”
11:37 am RT @TennisReporters Beaatiful BDL winner & Serena Williams wins 5th Wimbledon & 14th Slam. Falls on back. Face full of joy. Been a long 2 years. Well deserved
11:41 am RT @jon_wertheim Serena is the story but admire radwanska fight, no? Great last three rounds. Great event for wta….
11:42 am Serena grabs hold of Venus…..Rosewater Dish, the Wimbledon women’s trophy
11:43 am “I think I had the best two weeks of my life, says Radwanska to Sue Barker of BBC on court
11:48 am “I can’t even describe. I want to thank Jehovah,” Serena Williams to BBC’s Sue Barker on how it feels to be Wimbledon champion again
11: 48 am “You just never give up. You have to continue.” Serena Williams to Sue Barker of BBC on overcoming health troubles to win Wimbledon
11:48 am “Aggy played so well. You guys have to give her another round of applause because she is so amazing” Serena Williams to BBC on-court
11:49 am “Mentally I am like 12 or 13, so that kind of helps,” Serena to BBC on winning Wimbledon at age 30.
11:50 am “I’ve always wanted everything that Venus has….” Serena to BBC on court on tying Venus with her 5th Wimbledon title.
11:51 am RT @alex_willis ‘I believe you’re watching the greatest female player that’s ever played this game.’ John McEnroe
11:56 am “I didn’t think I would ever play tennis again. I just wanted to live,” Serena Williams to MJ Fernandez on ESPN on her health comeback
11:58 am “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger….” Serena Williams, literally, on her health comeback, to Mary Joe Fernandez on ESPN
12:02 pm Steve Flink ranks Serena Williams No. 6 greatest women’s player of alltime in “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0942257936?ie=UTF8&tag=newchapre-20&linkCode=shr&camp=213733&creative=393185&creativeASIN=0942257936&ref_=sr_1_1&keywords=The%20Greatest%20tennis%20matches%20of%20all%20time&qid=1341674760&sr=8-1
12:07 pm “I think it’s the most extraordinary sports story ever,” Pam Shriver on ESPN on the Williams family tennis domination
12:09 pm This also is a most extraordinary sports story. Titanic survivor wins US Open… “Titanic: The Tennis Story” http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1937559041?ie=UTF8&tag=newchapre-20&linkCode=shr&camp=213733&creative=393185&creativeASIN=1937559041&ref_=sr_1_1&keywords=Titanic%20The%20tennis%20story&qid=1341677307&sr=8-1 #Wimbledon
12:22 pm “What is more important than something that happens every 74 years?” says John McEnroe on ESPN on the Queen’s Sunday schedule #Wimbledon
12:33 pm Final tally for Serena Williams: 17 aces against Radwanska and 102 for The Championships.
12:38 pm RT @SerenaWilliams Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
12:55 pm Steve Flink’s rankings of best 1st serves of all time from new book 1.Serena 2.Venus 3. Alice Marble 4. Martina Navratilova 5. Althea Gibson