Serena Williams completed her second “Serena slam” of all four tennis major titles with a victory over Garbine Muguruza in the Wimbledon final.
Her 6-4, 6-4 defeat of the Spaniard on Centre Court gave the 33-year-old her fourth straight grand slam title. Williams also achieved the feat at the 2003 Australian Open, beating her sister Venus in four major finals in a row.
“It feels so good,” Williams said at the trophy ceremony as she clutched the Venus Rosewater dish for the sixth time. “I can’t believe I’m standing here with another ‘Serena slam.’ There was some pressure towards the end, but Garbine started hitting some great shots, and that made it even harder.”
Williams’ triumph also puts her three-quarters of the way to completing the coveted calendar year grand slam. Germany’s Steffi Graf was the last player to do so, in 1988. Williams’s 21st major singles championship moves her within one of Graf’s Open era record.
Williams started nervously, dropping serve in the opening game as she hit three double faults. She’d been down 4-2 in the first set before recovering to take it 6-4 as she found her range on her serve.
The match looked to be over quickly after that as Williams forced a double break, and then held to love to go up 5-1. Serving for the match, she again got nervous and was broken. Serving to stay in the championship at 5-2 down, Muguruza held from deuce.
Serving for the championship for a second time, Williams wavered again, saving three breakpoints before setting up her first match point with her 12th ace.
Williams failed to convert as Muguruza ripped a forehand winner. The Spaniard broke on her sixth attempt with another forehand winner.
Serving to stay in the match for the second time, Muguruza handed Williams three more championship points. This time, Williams took it, when the 21-year-old hit a forehand wide.
For a few seconds, Williams didn’t celebrate, either anticipating a challenge or having lost track of the score. After the umpire called it “game, set and match” she put her hand over her mouth and turned toward her family, friends and coach Patrick Mouratoglou in her box.
“Garbine played so well,” Williams said. “I didn’t even know it was over - she was fighting so hard at the end. Congratulations - don’t be sad, you’ll be holding this trophy very, very soon, believe me,” she told her opponent, who cried after the match.
“Nerves were the reason for the slow start and the difficult end,” Mouratoglou said in an interview afterwards. “She’s human, she has nerves like everyone. The difference is, she always finds a way to get back.”
Since Williams started working with the Frenchman, the son of former EDF Energies Nouvelles Chairman Paris Mouratoglou, after a stinging first-round loss at 2012 Roland Garros, she has won eight majors.
Williams, who has the best serve in tennis according to 18-time major champion Chris Evert, didn’t have a good day with the shot, hitting 12 aces and eight double faults as only 54 percent of her first serves landed in. Muguruza produced three aces and two double faults. Williams hit 29 winners, almost three times more than her opponent.
At 33 years, 289 days Williams is the oldest woman to win a grand slam since tennis turned professional in 1968. Roger Federer, one month shy of his 34th birthday, plays Novak Djokovic for the men’s title Sunday.
Since winning her fifth title at the All England Club in 2012, Wimbledon has been her least successful major for the top-ranked American. After crashing out of the third round last year, Williams rebounded by winning the U.S., Australian and French opens.
Williams had to fight hard for the last two legs of the Serena slam. At Roland Garros, she struggled with flu and had to come back from a set down five times for the first time in any major. At Wimbledon, Williams was twice two points away from defeat in the third round against 59th-ranked Heather Watson, and then had to beat three grand slam champions -- Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova -- to reach her 25th major championship match.
In the Wimbledon finals, she overcame a player who had handed her the most one-sided defeat in a major; a crushing 6-2, 6-2 defeat in the second round of last year’s French Open.
Muguruza had been the first Spanish woman in the Wimbledon finals since Conchita Martinez ended Martina Navratilova’s quest for a tenth title in 1994. Seeded 20 at Wimbledon, she’ll be ranked at a career-high No. 9 on the women’s tour next week. Her defeat means two-time winner Petra Kvitova remains the only player -- male or female -- born in the 1990s to have won a grand slam.
Although was disappointed not to have won, she was happy with the way she handled the biggest match of her life.
“You don’t know how your body is going to react in these situations,” she said in a news conference. “I’m happy. I felt free on the court, like no fear.”