| LONDON, July 7
LONDON, July 7 She was born a fighter and on
Saturday Serena Williams proved she is the ultimate survivor as
she completed her "unbelievable journey" from a pit of despair
to win a fifth Wimbledon crown.
Seventeen months after a life-threatening blood clot in her
lungs almost ended her glittering tennis career, Williams
blotted out the mental and physical scars to climb back into the
grand slam winner's circle by snuffing out Agnieszka Radwanska
6-1 5-7 6-2.
Almost everyone but those closest to her thought the days
when Williams would be holding aloft one of the four major
trophies were all but over.
But at the age of 30, the American, who grew up practising
on cracked public courts in Compton surrounded by drug dealers
and drive-by shootings, showed the world what she was still
capable of as she blazed a backhand winner to win her 14th grand
It was little wonder she collapsed on to her back in her
moment of glory and still lying on the ground, she covered her
face for several seconds, no doubt thinking about all the
injuries, illnesses and surgery she has had to endure in the
past two years.
"I can't even describe it. I almost didn't make it a few
years ago. I was in hospital but now I'm here again and it was
so worth it. I'm so happy," a beaming Williams, with her voice
quivering, told the crowd as she hugged the Venus Rosewater
"I never dreamt of being here again, being so down," added
the American, whose tale of woe started when she sliced her foot
on a piece of glass in a Munich restaurant soon after winning
her 13th slam at Wimbledon in July 2010.
"I didn't give up (even when I had the clot). I was just so
tired at that point.
"Gosh, right before that I had the blood clot, I had lung
problems. I had a tube in my stomach and it was draining
"I had two foot surgeries. It was a lot. I just felt down,
the lowest of lows."
On Saturday, she enjoyed the highest of the highs as she
matched her sister Venus's haul of five Wimbledon trophies by
becoming the first 30-something to win the title since Martina
Navratilova achieved the feat in 1990.
"Coming here and winning today is amazing because literally
last year I was ranked almost 200. It's been an unbelievable
journey for me," said the world number six.
That journey almost took a backward slide just five weeks
ago when Serena lost in the opening round of the French Open,
the first time she had exited so early from a grand slam
But just as many started writing Serena's tennis obituary,
she roared back to stop Radwanska from becoming the first Polish
grand slam winner.
Radwanska's title hopes had already looked rather bleak as
not only had she never won a set against Serena before, but as
she prepared for the biggest match of her career, she was
already battling respiratory problems which she blamed on the
rain and blustery winds of the non-existent British summer.
Saturday's damp, chilly and gloomy conditions on Centre
Court would have done little to lift Radwanska's mood and it was
not long before she was being blown away by a gale force named
As Serena moved within one point of blanking out Radwanska
from the first set, it led one fan to tweet "this final will be
over before you can put a kettle on".
Radwanska could have done with a hot drink herself as she
sniffled and coughed during the changeovers and she got a chance
to warm her throat when the players were briefly forced off
court at the end of the first set when a slight drizzle started
The short respite did nothing to halt Serena's charge as she
steamed to a 4-2 lead. But just when it seemed that Serena would
be wrapping up one of the most one-sided Wimbledon finals,
Radwanska's game suddenly caught fire and she levelled for 4-4.
The 23-year-old Pole drew Serena into lengthy rallies and
when the American netted a backhand to surrender the second set,
the crowd erupted into wild applause.
Serena, though, is not one for cowering and one 49-second
blitz summed up her intentions. She fired four thunderbolt aces
to win the fourth game of the third set, and from then on, her
opponent never got a look in.
Serena followed up her 102nd ace of the tournament with a
screaming service winner to bring up matchpoint, and seconds
later it was all over.
"I'm still shaking so much. I think I had the best two weeks
of my life. She was too good today, but I'm just so happy to be
here in the final. I think it was not my day but I'll try again
next year," a sobbing Radwanska said during the presentation
Serena then rounded off a successful day for the Williams
clan as she and Venus joined forces to capture a fifth Wimbledon
doubles title, beating Czech sixth seeds Andrea Hlavackova and
Lucie Hradecka 7-5 6-4.
While Serena was off to sort out her outfit for the
champions ball, Roger Federer was getting ready to strike a
double blow for the 30-somethings when he takes on British hope
Andy Murray in the men's final on Sunday.
A Serena-Federer triumph would mean it would be the first
time since 1975 when both Wimbledon singles titles have been won
by the over 30s.
Jonathan Marray kicked off what could be a weekend of
national euphoria for British tennis when he became the first
home player since 1936 to win the Wimbledon men's doubles title
with Danish partner Frederik Nielsen.
Just a day before near-namesake Murray hopes to end
Britain's 76-year wait for a men's singles champion, wildcards
Marray and Nielsen sent the Centre Court crowd into a frenzy
after downing fifth seeds Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau 4-6
6-4 7-6 6-7 6-3.
(Editing by Toby Davis)