Serena Williams Pounds Way to Wimbledon Title With Serve Record

Serena Williams
Serena Williams returns a shot during her Ladies' Singles semi final match against Victoria Azarenka on day ten of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2012 in London. Photographer: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Serena Williams fired a record 102 aces on her way to the Wimbledon singles title, yet none were more important than the four she hit in 49 seconds in yesterday’s final.

After losing her serve twice to give away the second set, and down 1-2 in the third, the American slammed four serves past Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska in less than a minute in the fourth game on Centre Court. She then eased to the 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 victory, giving her a fifth Wimbledon singles title and 14th Grand Slam singles championship.

“My serve really helped me throughout this tournament,” said Williams, who struck 17 aces in the final to reach 102, four more than Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, the top server in the men’s draw. “I can’t describe why it was so good or how it was so good. It’s not like I practice it that much. I just had the rhythm, kind of felt it.”

Williams’ serve is “the best shot in tennis,” 18-time Grand Slam singles champion Chris Evert said in an interview at the ESPN studio at Wimbledon yesterday, where she works as a broadcaster.

The American right-hander also out-performed today’s men’s finalists. Britain’s Andy Murray, who is trying to become the first British man since 1936 to win the Wimbledon singles title, has struck 74 aces. Roger Federer of Switzerland, who will regain the top ranking in tennis if he wins his seventh championship, made the final with 59.

Broken Records

Although Williams struggled occasionally with her ground strokes in the earlier rounds, her serving hardly ever let her down.

She won 91 percent of her service games in the past two weeks and produced three times more aces compared to the second-best women’s server, Germany’s Sabine Lisicki. Williams broke her own Wimbledon women’s ace record twice: 23 in the third round, and 24 against reigning Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the semifinals. Azarenka will regain the top ranking in women’s tennis tomorrow, while Williams moves up two spots to No. 4.

“It’s probably terrifying to be on the other side of the net,” said Evert, who won three Wimbledon singles titles between 1974 and 1981. “I’m glad I’m not in this era. The serve has always been there, but now she is consistently picking her spots better and that’s why she has more aces.”

Radwanska, who hit 16 aces in the entire tournament and won 79 percent of her service games, agreed.

“It’s her weapon,” she said in a news conference. “That’s why she won the tournament five times already.”

`Latest and Greatest'

Williams responded to increased pressure from her opponent yesterday by relying on her serve. She said she’s trying to make four aces in a game a regular thing.

“I do that all the time now,” Williams said. “I did it in Madrid. I did it earlier in this tournament. That’s my latest and greatest thing to do, is hitting four aces in a game. It’s awesome.”

The most powerful shot in women’s tennis was initially modeled on the one that helped Pete Sampras win seven Wimbledon titles.

“I used to want to serve just like Pete, but I think my motion changed,” Williams said. “It doesn’t look anything like his. It just kind of became my own. It became Serena Williams’s.”

And so did the Wimbledon trophy for a fifth time, tying her with sister Venus.

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