After easily winning the first set, Serena Williams struggled after a brief rain delay before regaining her championship form to beat Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.
For Serena Williams, the tears came slowly, a release of all the emotions that had accumulated over the last two weeks, the last two months, the last two years.
There was the euphoria of winning her fifth singles title at Wimbledon, tying her older sister Venus, and her 14th in a Grand Slam tournament. The satisfaction of purging a shocking French Open implosion and the aura of vulnerability that followed. The relief that comes with reviving a career on the brink, from cheating death, from outlasting a patient and persistent adversary who on Saturday threatened with a comeback nearly as stirring as Williams's.
When it was over, when her crisp backhand found open court, Williams fell backward onto the lawn. She stayed there for a few seconds, a grass angel basking in a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska, before climbing through the crowd to meet her entourage in its box. Her appreciation of these moments is greater than it was 13 years ago, when at age 17 she announced her presence at the 1999 U.S. Open. There is an element of selflessness, of humility, that comes, perhaps, with age and maturity. Now 30, Williams is the first woman in her 30s to capture a Grand Slam since Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon in 1990 at age 33.
"Oh my God, I can't even describe it," Williams said during an on- court interview after she turned back Radwanska on a blustery and chilly Centre Court.
When she took to Twitter an hour later, Williams was nearly speechless still: "Yeaa," she wrote, with 40 more a's tacked on. When she appeared an hour after that in the interview room, Williams said that winning had yet to sink in; usually, she said, it does immediately. But it certainly appeared to while she answered a question about her motivation to win the women's doubles final with Venus, as they did Saturday night.
"I don't feel any pressure because, I mean, regardless, I won Wimbledon," Williams said, placing her head on the podium as she unleashed a lengthy, high-pitched cackle.
Since the last time she won Wimbledon, in 2010, Williams has endured two foot operations, caused by a misstep on broken glass; emergency treatment for blood clots in her lungs; an 11-month hiatus from the tour; a demoralizing loss in the 2011 U.S. Open final; torn ligaments in an Australian Open warm-up tournament; and an outstanding clay-court season that came to a sudden and stunning end with a first-round defeat at the French Open, her earliest exit from a Grand Slam tournament.
Williams wanted to expunge the memory of her loss in Paris. She tried. She could not, at least for a while. Naturally negative is how Williams describes her temperament, a personality trait at odds with the confident, powerful persona she projects on the court.
The loss spilled over into Wimbledon, into sluggish three-set victories against Zheng Jie and Yaroslava Shvedova. Was she headed for another disappointment? Did she have enough mental toughness to advance? Her father and coach, Richard Williams, said she was lucky to have reached the quarterfinals. …