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Was this Roger Federer’s Wimbledon farewell?Graf equalled, can Williams overtake Court?Williams sisters win doubles final

London: Serena Williams’ year-long, frustrating, emotional and at-times tormented wait for the 22nd grand slam singles title that would tie Steffi Graf’s Open era record is over, at last. The American great earned a seventh Wimbledon crown and avenged her Australian Open loss to Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 in a quality women’s final.

The most imposing shot in women’s tennis was the difference between two exceptional competitors, whose previous meeting on an occasion of similar importance lasted the full three sets at Melbourne Park in January. In this one, on a windy centre court at the All England Club, Williams hit 13 aces, won 38 of 43 points when the first ball thundered safely in, and faced a single break point.

Having flung herself on her back after a final forehand volley winner, Williams raised two fingers on each hand in the direction of her player box. One message: No.22. Only Australian Margaret Court, a guest in the Royal Box, now lies ahead, her all-time mark of 24 the next milestone to pursue.

Williams’ emotions were a mix of elation at winning Wimbledon title No.7 and the excitement of equalling Graf. “Trying so hard to get there, finally being able to match history, which is pretty awesome,” the 34-year-old said after an 80-minute match decided, and dominated, by her incomparable serve.

There was also relief, undoubtedly, for Williams was honest enough to admit to some sleepless nights since her shock US Open loss to Roberta Vinci last September, and in two losing slam finals since. “Coming so close. Feeling it, not being able to quite get there,” she said. “My goal is to win always at least a slam a year. It was getting down to the pressure.

“This tournament I came in with just a different mind frame and mindset. In Melbourne I thought I played well, but honestly Angelique played great, she played better. She just played really good tennis. So I knew that going into this one, I just needed to keep calm, be confident, just play the tennis that I’ve been playing for well over a decade.”

New York was crushing. Melbourne and Paris – where she lost the final to Garbine Muguruza – disappointing. “I’ve just felt a lot of pressure, I guess. I put a lot of that pressure on myself. Obviously had some really tough losses.

“But if you look at the big picture, I was just thinking about, you know, getting to three finals, grand slam finals. In the past eight grand slams, I don’t know how many finals I’ve been in. It’s pretty impressive.

“I had to start looking at positives, not focusing on that one loss per tournament which really isn’t bad, and for anyone else on this tour would be completely happy about it. Once I started focusing more on the positives, I realised that I’m pretty good. Then I started playing a little better.”

Williams admitted it had been a challenge not to focus on Graf’s record, having lost in one major semi as she chased the calendar year grand slam, and then two finals in 2016.

“It’s been incredibly difficult not to think about it. I had a couple of tries this year. I lost to two great opponents, one actually being Angelique,” Williams said during the presentation of the Venus Rosewater Dish. “It makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard I worked for it.”

There is no longer any space for engraving on the original plate, so it is just as well that the Williams family name had already appeared 11 times. S Williams will be the first name on the additional part of the trophy, and it is hard on current form to imagine that will be the last.

Kerber was far from overawed or outclassed on her Wimbledon finals debut, sharing with Williams some excellent, desperate rallies, a warm hug at the net and obvious mutual respect. Kerber played some wonderful tennis, and lost her own serve only once each set, but that was enough.

Having battled through four deuces and two break points to hold her opening service game to rousing applause, the German fourth seed blinked unexpectedly at 5-6. With just three unforced errors on the efficent Kerber stats sheet as she served to force a tiebreak, consecutive groundstroke misses at 15-15 hurt her badly.

She saved the first when, not for the first time, her opponent unsuccessfully deployed a drop shot that was easily run down by one of the best movers in the game. Not so on the second, when a Williams cross court forehand helped her close out a 47-minute opener 7-5. The top seed’s reaction showed how important that was.

”Kerber played really good,” said Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. “But she’s human. It’s difficult to hold your serve when you’re so much under pressure because you feel you can’t break the opponent. So at a certain point you have to do one or two mistakes, and Serena did the job.

“The match was really tough. She’s very difficult to manipulate on the tennis court, because she reads the game so well, because she has a good answer to almost  all the problems that you can give. That’s one thing. The second thing is she’s a bit predictable. Otherwise, we would be in trouble. Even so, when  Serena serves like that, it’s difficult for anyone.”

Kerber did not earn her first – her only – break point, until the seventh game of the second set. But then came two thunderous aces. Naturally. One wide, 188kmh. Bang. Another down the middle at 199kmh. From 40-15, Kerber was broken in the following game, having led 40-15, two backhand errors contributing to the break. All that was left was for Williams to serve out the championship Emphatically. Of course.

“It was her time, this was her moment, you could sense the focus the whole two weeks,” said former great Chris Evert. “The way she just went about her business, you could feel that she was ready for this.”

Williams was due to finish a triumphant Saturday contesting the doubles final with her sister Venus. Job unfinished, still.

So, too for Kerber, but for different reasons. The 28-year-old insisted she enjoyed the experience of her first slam finals loss, and would “never forget the feeling” of duelling with Williams on Wimbledon’s centre court. Due to return to No.2 on the rankings on Monday, the tenacious left-hander rebounded after a first-round loss at Roland Garros in her first major since winning one, satisfied that she knows how to get to finals, at least, and determined for more.

“I think I played what I could today,” she said, declaring the Williams serve, on grass, as the only difference between this contest and the one in Australia. Just too good. “I can just say, I mean, Serena was serving unbelievable today. At the end I was trying everything, but she deserved it today. She really played an unbelievable match. I think we both play on a really high level. I try everything.

“I know I have the game, all the experience to win a few more grand slams,” said Kerber. “Of course, Wimbledon is a really special tournament, but I know how to get here, and I will hope that I will get one day the chance to play another final here.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.


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