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There was never any doubt that Serena Williams would need to serve big in order to become the first female player over the age of thirty to win a Grand Slam since 1990 at The Championships this year. The 14-time Grand Slam and 5-time Wimbledon champion is older now—she can’t be bothered getting into track meets with her younger, fitter competition. But serving this big? Unheard of. Defending Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova might have summed it up best after she was ousted in straight sets by the bomb-serving American. The Czech described the experience of playing against Williams as “big difficult.” Victoria Azarenka, Williams’ semifinal victim, was also blown away. “You know, the serve is just that one difference that brings her to the higher level,” she said. “I don’t see anybody else serving like this on the tour.” “I’m in awe,” gushed ESPN commentator Mary Joe Fernandez. Was there anybody out there that wasn’t? Williams served 102 aces in seven matches, 68 more than Sabine Lisicki, the next best total for a woman at Wimbledon. She also served four more aces than Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, who led all men. To put that in clearer perspective, Williams served 57 aces in her final run last year at the US Open. It was still best among all female players in New York by a good margin, but barely half of what she accomplished during the Wimbledon fortnight. “Absolutely remarkable,” commented Patrick McEnroe, after Williams broke her own record—23 aces, set in round three—by serving 24 aces against Victoria Azarenka (in two sets!) to reach her seventh career Wimbledon final. “Sampras-like,” he added. Williams won 80 percent of all her first serve points, but more importantly, she won nearly all of the important ones. In a tense third-round match against Zheng Jie, Serena swatted aside all six break points she faced on the day. It was the kind of clutch serving that enabled Williams to overcome the periodic hiccups that have characterized her performance since returning to the tour after a life-threatening pulmonary embolism and hematoma. 23

2012 Wimbledon Review

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