Serena Williams won her fifth Wimbledon title on Saturday, defeating Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.
“I wanted to win here so badly,” Serena said. “Winning is so amazing. Each title is special but this is super-special because it’s a huge comeback for me. Oh my gosh, I still can’t believe I was able to come through and win my seven matches.”
The result was generally a forgone conclusion as the underpowered Radwanska, facing Williams’ brutal baseline bashing, entered the match struggling with an upper respiratory illness. But the tone of the match quickly changed in the second set when Williams needed to step up to close out the match.
Radwanska didn’t see a break point opportunity until 6-1, 4-3 in favor of Williams, extending a rally and winning the point to even the second set at 4-4. Radwanska then held serve for 5-4 to the delight of the crows at the All England Club. Serving at 5-6, Williams was increasingly rattled by Radwanska’s ability to chase down balls, and lost serve to even the match at one set all.
Williams, who had been playing free-flowing power tennis through the first set and a half, looked tight as the match drew closer. In the third set Williams started tight, eventually holding in her first service game after being down.
Williams evened the set at 2-2 after hitting four consecutive aces to hold serve, then took that momentum into the next game to break for a 3-2 lead. From there Williams’ steely gaze began to return, and she ran out the next three games for the championship.
It was the 14th Slam win for the younger Williams sister, who tied her sister Venus with five Wimbledon crowns.
On Friday Radwanska was forced her to cancel a news conference as she had trouble speaking due to her illness.
“I will do whatever it takes to make sure I’m ready to play the best I can,” she said afterwards in a statement. Radwanska was seeking to capture a first-ever Grand Slam title for Poland.
Williams has been through her own injury and illness journey since winning Wimbledon in 2010 — shortly afterwards cutting her feet on glass in a restaurant in a hushed-up incident that required not one but two surgeries. She later spent time in the hospital for blood clots in her lungs and a stomach issue where her father said, “I really thought Serena was going to die.”
When she finally did come back on tour in June of last year, she had been sidelined for roughly a year. Pundits wondered if she ever could come back, or be back to her top form.
“I just wanted to make it through everything that I was going through and become a survivor,” she said.
Since then she has seen her sister Venus weakened by an autoimmune disease that will likely put an end to her career, at least in singles, by the end of 2012.
“I have so much appreciation for every moment on the court,” Serena said. “I really take pride in playing, especially playing such big, amazing tournaments like this. I just want to do the absolute best that I can at all moments.”
Serena’s road to the championship was anything but easy, going through defending champion Petra Kvitova in the quarters, former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the semis, and the world No. 3 Radwanska in the final. Radwanska would have risen to No. 1 in the world for the first time with the win.
Williams becomes the first 30 year old to win a Slam since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1990, and improved to 14-4 in Slam finals. It was her 42nd career title, putting her behind Venus (43) among active players.
In the Saturday doubles final the Williams sisters will meet the Czech pairing of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.
In the doubles semifinals the Williams ousted top seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, and the Czechs defeated Italians Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
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