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Fourth Wimbledon title puts Serena among game’s greats

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Originally published on: 03/07/10 18:00

Thirteen, she said afterwards, is her lucky number. That Serena Williams will exceed the count when her career Grand Slam haul is etched rather than pencilled lightly into the record books is a certainty. The only question is by how many.

The 28-year-old world No.1 defended her Wimbledon crown with a 6-3 6-2 victory against first-time Grand Slam finalist Vera Zvonareva with a stoic display, quelling a strong start from the Russian before stamping her authority on the match. The American is one of the great front-runners in tennis and never looked under threat before sealing Championship point shortly after the hour mark with a smash.

That it finished with an overhead was fitting. Despite her own misgivings about the stroke over the past fortnight, Williams’ serve can now rightly be regarded as one of the great shots of the modern game. Her 89 aces during 14 sets is a tournament record. Nine of those aces came against Zvonareva, who managed to steal just two points against Serena’s first serve in the final.

“It’s not only the weapon like a shot weapon,” conceded the Russian, who failed to bring up a single break point. “It’s also a mental weapon that she’s so confident in it that she knows that she can take more risk and she can go more on the returns.”

The historical significance of Williams’ fourth Wimbledon title was at the forefront of her mind. A thirteenth Grand Slam crown takes her to sixth in the all-time champions’ list and past her idol Billie Jean King. Ahead of her lie Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, both on 18

Zvonareva emerged nerveless despite the occasion, a trait all the more apparent in her psyche since returning from ankle surgery in the off-season. She stayed with Serena until a double fault in brought up deuce. Serena saw one break point come and go before flashing a stunning forehand pass beyond the Russian to leave her serving for the first set.

Zvonareva had come back after losing the first set in both her quarter-final victory over Kim Clijsters and against Petra Kvitova to reach the final, but her game failed to reach the heights it had at the start of the week. Tactically, she admitted, the 25-year-old struggled to strike the balance between attack and defence, and was guilty of snatching at her opportunities. “I was not able to show my best today,” she said, “but Serena didn’t allow me to show my best.”

From then on, Zvonareva was a passenger. Broken in the first game of the second set, the Russian’s challenge faded fast and she soon slipped another break back as Serena raced towards the title. “Hey Billie – I got you!” she said shortly before the trophy presentation.

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