Earlier in the Wimbledon 2012 tournament, a reader of my blog thanked me for not filling all my posts with Serena Williams and Roger Federer, as many others had done. As for Serena, there are two reasons I do that. Firstly, I do concentrate on some of my top favorites like Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova for as long as they are around. Secondly, and here’s where I am gambling, I figure if Serena Williams plays like the all-time great she is, I will have plenty of time to post about her come the semifinals and final. Sometimes, as in her first round loss at Roland Garros 2012, that strategy can backfire. Also, this year during the time of the Wimbledon semis, other matters had me pressed for time so I was only able to post a US Women’s Open (golf) entry. But after watching both the semis and final, there is only one thing I want to comment on concerning Serena, because that one thing might just be the best shot ever…EVER…in women’s tennis.
Serena Williams’ serve won her this championship. Period. There were times in the first week where were it not for her serve, she would have been shown the exit, particularly against Zheng Jie. On the women’s side, the serve isn’t as much of weapon as the men’s side, except in a few cases. Serena is one of those cases. Correction, Serena is the ultimate example of that. Even among the top women players, breaks of serve are very common. Sometimes it seems players would rather return serve to win games. This makes playing Serena even tougher. Opponents already have a hard time consistently holding their own serve, but then they have the added pressure of trying to break Serena’s serve. As soon as they drop serve once in a set, it almost feels like the set is lost against Serena. And when Serena steps up and hits 3 or 4 service winners in a game to hold in less than a minute, it keeps the pressure on the opponent to hold. That constant pressure wears mentally on players, particularly if they are having a lot of deuce games on their own service.
I give Agnieszka Radwanska a lot of credit for fighting to take it to 3 sets. In fact, I applaud that she turned it around at a time when the broadcasters were showing graphics of players who gave up the fewest games in a Wimbledon final. At the time, it looked like Serena would be among them. But Aga, the new world #2, showed tremendous spirit to win the second set. Still, when Serena can step up and serve 17 aces, more than Radwanska had the entire tournament, for free points, it’s tough for anybody to overcome that. Serena finished with 102 aces, a new Wimbledon women’s record, easily besting the previous record of 89. Hmmm…who held the previous record? Oh yes, Serena did. And now again, does. The two biggest “one punch”-type shots I have ever seen on the women’s side are Steffi Graf’s forehand and Serena’s serve. I give the edge to Serena for the greatest single shot weapon in the history of women’s tennis. I am not saying she is the best player ever or better than Steffi, because other aspects factor into that. But for one shot, it’s the Serena Serve. The serve is the one shot in tennis that you get to hit without your opponent affecting it (at least physically). You can try to avoid hitting to Graf’s forehand. You can’t avoid trying to return Serena’s serve. Her opponent’s wish they could.