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All-time record next aim for Open Era Grand Slam great Serena Williams

Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | July 9, 2016

Serena Williams bounced back from a hat-trick of Grand Slam disappointments in the intervening 12 months to retain her Wimbledon ladies’ singles title and become a seven-time champion at the All England Club.

Wimbledon 2016 - Day Twelve - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

In doing so with a 7-5 6-3 victory over Angelique Kerber, Serena matched Open Era record holder Steffi Graf on 22 individual tennis Majors, who also lifted the women’s title in SW19 on seven occasions.

With German great Graf now emulated, Williams will be hungry for further success. If she can continue to play as awesomely on grass as this and her game still translates to other surfaces, then Serena shall get all she desires with Coral going 6/4 she wins the US Open.

“Hard work makes victory even sweeter”

Having taken a whole calendar year to deliver further Grand Slam glory, Williams admitted going level with Graf had been difficult to keep out of her thoughts, but also stressed the graft that has gone into her achievement.

Britain Wimbledon Tennis

“It’s been incredibly difficult not to think about it,” Serena said on Centre Court when interviewed after receiving the Venus Rosewater Dish again.

“I had a couple of tries this year and lost to two great opponents, one being Angelique [at the Australian Open], but it makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard I worked for it.”

Worth the wait

Williams held all four Grand Slams going into the 2015 US Open and watched as almost every other top seed fell by the wayside at Flushing Meadows.

US Open - Women Semi-Final - Vinci Vs Williams

A Super Slam – that is winning every Major in the same year – looked virtually certain, but Serena was slain by Roberta Vinci in the semis, who was subsequently runner-up to fellow Italian player Flavia Pennetta.

The wait to equal Graf looked to have only been extended until Melbourne at the start of this season, with Williams waltzing through to the final without dropping a set. Kerber denied her Down Under, however, but that defeat has now been avenged.

Great game and varied Serena style

Winning Wimbledon yet again was not just about that sensationally powerful Serena serve, although it always helps. Kerber got into rallies with the American, but found herself under immense pressure when she should’ve been dictating points.

Wimbledon 2016 - Day Twelve - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

Ladies’ singles fourth seed and top current German pro Kerber failed to ace a single serve of her own in the final, while Williams produced more in the match than her opponent had managed in the entire tournament.

Serena’s strengths were supplemented nicely here, with a willingness to come forward from the baseline to get a bigger grip on rallies – rather than trading heavy hits with Kerber from the back of the court.

Leaving Kerber broken

Breaking at key times – to take the first set and allow the opportunity to serve out yet another Grand Slam title – also proved a key weapon for Williams, just as it has been throughout male contemporary and fellow 34-year-old Roger Federer’s career.

Australian Open - Day 13 - Melbourne Park

Unlike the Australian Open where Serena had been flawless, this time it was Kerber’s turn to come into a final without dropping a set.

Williams started Wimbledon slowly this year, but displayed her clinical best when the business end arrived – especially when mauling Grand Slam last four opponent Elena Vesnina 6-2 6-0.

Kerber’s repetitive loss of serve to elder Williams sibling Venus in the semis should’ve had alarm bells ringing among punters and, although the German gave a far better account of herself against Serena, could not capitalise on limited final opportunities when returning.

Yet Kerber climbs to number two in the WTA rankings; behind the woman who still dominates the tour when she wants to play on it and women’s tennis generally.

Williams is coming for Court

Losses in Melbourne and the French Open, with young Spaniard Garbine Muguruza lifting a maiden Slam at Roland Garros, can now be forgotten for Williams.

Her next and ultimate goal is to be unparalleled in any era of women’s tennis, and that means trying to top Margaret Court’s all-time singles Grand Slam record of 24.

Wimbledon 2016 - Day Twelve - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

Although she turns 35 in September following the US Open, an interesting 11/8 price says Serena can eclipse Court by the end of 2017.

Punters who get on this will need Williams to win three of the next five Slams for this to pay off. That is more than possible, given how a number of younger ladies simply cannot produce consistent results together.

No dominant successor

Kerber and Muguruza have both had peaks and troughs, depending on the surface in question. Can they year-on-year match what they’ve both achieved this season by delivering further Major success?

Wimbledon 2016 - Day Four - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

The jury is out, because there are others earmarked for greatness – Switzerland’s teenage talent Belinda Bencic and Eugenie Bouchard of Canada to name but two – that will benefit from stepping out of that huge shadow cast by Serena.

Women’s tennis may certainly become more open when Williams is ready to call time on her career, but – on the evidence of Wimbledon 2016 – her demise doesn’t look like happening anytime soon.

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