Serena Williams claimed the 22nd Grand Slam title of her career, with a dominating performance Saturday, in the women’s singles final against Angelique Kerber of Germany on Day 13 of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London.
With the win now matching Steffi Graf’s Open-era record and achieving a goal that taunted her for nearly a year. This time, Serena Williams wouldn’t be denied.
Angelique Kerber did her best to defend her childhood idol’s record, but Serena Williams’ onslaught on history proved irresistible. Since her Wimbledon win twelve months ago Ms. Williams had been just one victory away from equalling Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles and she finally achieved her goal by beating Kerber in what could quite possibly be, one of the best Wimbledon finals of recent times.
Kerber, who had denied Williams her 22nd title by beating her in the Australian Open final, in Melbourne in January, again pushed the world No 1 hard before losing 7-5, 6-3 after an hour and 21 minutes of fierce competition. After hitting the winning volley to secure her seventh Wimbledon title Williams fell on her back in relief as much as celebration.
“I have definitely had some sleepless nights with a lot of stuff, coming so close and feeling it and not being able to get there,” Serena told reporters.
“This tournament I came in with a different mindset. In Melbourne I thought I played well but Angelique played great, and better. So I knew going into this one I needed to be calm and be confident and play the tennis I’ve been playing for well over a decade.”
While lying on Centre Court and basking in the applause, Serena wasn’t just celebrating winning Wimbledon, but tying the record Graf single-handedly held for 17 years. Williams is 22-6 in Grand Slam finals, meaning half of those losses came in the past 10 months.
“Definitely so excited to win Wimbledon. That’s always a great feeling,” said Serena, who will receive $2.5 million in prize money. “But maybe even more so is the excitement of getting 22, you know, trying so hard to get there, finally being able to match history, which is pretty awesome.”
Angelique Kerber is getting a bit of a reputation as a Grinch, at least where the Williams family is concerned. Not only did she prevent Serena Williams from equalling Steffi Graf’s open-era record, when she won the Australian Open in January, on Thursday Kerber was at it again as she denied the 36-year-old Venus Williams, five times the champion here, a place in the final, 16 years after her first.
Kerber prevented another Williams versus Williams final. The Williams Sisters are the only two women during the open era to play each other in four consecutive Grand Slam finals. The Williams sisters have met four times in the Wimbledon singles finals, with Venus winning in 2008, and Serena in ’02, ’03 and ’09. Serena said she was conflicted about the possibility of playing her sister again.
“It’s been very, very difficult for me, especially being the younger sister,” Serena said. “She’s always kind of protected me my whole life, always looked out for me both on and off the court.”
While it would have been great to see the sisters face each other once again, Serena was not about to be denied from tying Graf this time around, no matter who her opponent was.
Serena Williams put the icing on the cake of another magnificent Wimbledon campaign by teaming up with sister Venus for a sixth doubles crown at the All England Club hours later.
Just hours five hours Serena was back on Centre Court joined by sister Venus in the final of Ladies Doubles. The sisters extended their doubles dominance and improved their record to 14-0 in Grand Slam finals by taking the title, powering past Timea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3, 6-4.
“It was really special to be out there again, to win Wimbledon in doubles. We love it, we love playing doubles, we love being together,” Serena said after the match. “I had just enough time to change and get the ankles re-taped. It was fine. I didn’t want to warm down.”
For Venus it was a consolation after she lost to Kerber in Thursday’s singles semi-finals — denying her a first grand slam singles final since losing to Serena at Wimbledon in 2009.
“Watching Serena playing earlier was amazing and I was so into that,” Venus said of her younger sister’s historic win earlier in the day.
“We had to hit the reset button to get ready for the doubles. She brought the energy from game one.”
The sisters came out firing straight away against the No.5 seeds Babos and Shvedova. After trading breaks early on, the Williamses grabbed the decisive break at 4-3 after a vicious Venus crosscourt backhand split the court and left Babos and Shvedova stranded.
Despite firing off a double-fault while serving for the match, Venus quickly redeemed herself on the next point as Serena picked off a backhand volley to seal the title.