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Wimbledon Day 12: “Hey, Billie, I Got You!”

Posted by gauloises1 on July 5, 2010

Serena Williams d. Vera Zvonareva, 63 62

On Saturday, Serena Williams picked up her fourth Wimbledon title and her thirteenth Grand Slam over all, overtaking Billie Jean King in the all-time standings. And she did it without dropping a set and without facing a break in the final. That’s about as dominant a performance as you will ever, ever see. Gobsmacking stuff.

OK, so it wasn’t the most interesting final to watch, but if you consider Serena’s performance over the seven matches throughout the fortnight as the spectacle, then you know you’ve seen something.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Vera, as there was basically nothing she could do; she could have played a good 15% better, and there still would have been nothing she could have done. Her run to the final was exceptional and she did her best on the day, although she must have hoped for so much more from it, but the way she handled herself after such a painful experience – the dignity and the depth of emotion she showed – was both impressive and endearing. And if she can kick on from this tournament and play with something approaching the same level of conviction, we could be looking at a whole different Vera Zvonareva in the latter phase of her career. Could be very interesting.

And she’s still got the hottest coach since Hugo Le Coq. So there’s always that.

Serena, though. I don’t want to belabor this angle, but it was the first Wimbledon title she’s won where she didn’t face Venus in the final (which I tend to feel always makes her the underdog, at least in her own mind), and to produce that kind of performance as the overwhelming favourite is quite something. Presumably I’m very late to the party on this (I prefer it that way, you don’t have to stay as long), but I find I’m having to readjust my thinking on Serena. For the first time, I’m truly placing her in the context of history, and not in a vaguely patronising breaking boundaries sense; in the sense of having a legitimate claim to being considered one of the greatest players of all time. Things look a lot different with those interpretive lenses on, and I’m curious to see whether, as I partly believe, Serena’s biggest accomplishments might be yet to come.

There was just such a, well, serenity about her in this tournament. Even when she barely drops a set on the way to other titles, there’s always a turmoil, a struggle that fuels her performances. While she was tested – that first set against Sharapova springs immediately to mind – I never felt like she was battling herself. She seemed, I don’t know, centred. Even in the BBC interviews I saw her give, she was totally at ease with herself and what she was trying to achieve, never more so than when she was laughing at herself. Perhaps I’m completely off-base, but I honestly feel right now like Serena could win three Slams a year for the next three years, because she’s found her groove. I don’t know, what do you think?

Anyway, she nabbed a Wimbledon this weekend, and that’ll do to be going on with.

Thirteen, baby.

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