Sunday, 10 July 2016

7 for Serena !

Serena Williams has done it and achieved it in style. Her seventh Wimbledon crown and 22nd Grand Slam title arrived with a simple volley into an open court after an appropriately high class final.  Her opponent, fourth seed Angilique Kerber, pushed Serena to heights to which we have become accustomed over a career that has delighted us from her very first major - the rather unexpected US Open in 1999, a Grand Slam title snatched from Martina Hingis before older sister Venus had even won her first at the highest level.
It is now history that Venus won four majors before Serena decided to win again and from 2002 at Roland Garros it has been her world.

2016 at SW19 was smooth sailing for the top seed for most of the fortnight, but Serena really cranked it up in the final stages, her semi final exhibition the finest individual tennis of the tournament.  However, the quality of both players in the finale made it much better to watch and appreciate because the questions posed to Williams by the German left hander were full of merit.  Kerber returned the fabulous serves as no other player possibly could, not always with success, but always with a steadfast refusal to be intimidated. 

The rallies more often than not were full of class, and lasted longer than expected due to both competitors pulling off shots that drew gasps from a crowd receiving its money's worth and more.  The only shame was that a third set didn't feature, due to the ability of Serena to up the ante nearing the finish of a set.

She did it in Set One when serving at 5-5 and 15-30.  Forcing Kerber into error to bring it to 30-30 and then delivering two unreturnable serves, including an ace, poured pressure onto the fourth seed to hold her next serve to remain in the set.  She couldn't and Serena led 7-5.
It was the only break of the set, and credit must go to Angie for her defensive skills.  Serena hit an amazing 24 winners in those twelve games.

The second set also saw Kerber in a competitive position - in fact she was 3-3 and had a break point in the seventh game.  Serena simply squashed the chance of anything exciting for Germany with two successive aces.
Next game Angie was up 40-15 and seemingly set to level at 4-4 when the booming ground strokes of Williams forced three straight errors,  and a weak Kerber backhand surrendered only the second break of the match, signalling the end for Angie and the stage entrance for Serena to serve her way further into history.
A mere 15 winners off the American racquet for set two as she fittingly won the final game to love.

Serena Williams defended her Wimbledon title 7-5 6-3 and sent statisticians, including yours truly, racing to update all the records broken (mostly held already by the woman herself !) but firstly it was important to note the grace with which each of the players conducted themselves following a wonderful sporting event, sporting being the operative word.
Angie Kerber was enthusiastic in her congratulations for Serena, and praised her for what she'd contributed to the game of tennis.  Serena was equally full of recognition for the fine tournament that Angie had played, also noting that the two had played earlier in the 2016 Aus Open final with a different result.

Here's hoping for a men's final to remember as fondly.

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