| LONDON, July 7
LONDON, July 7 The gulf between Serena Williams
and Agnieszka Radwanska was perhaps never more evident than when
the Pole left Wimbledon's Centre Court as a beaten finalist and
described her defeat as a "dream" and the culmination of the
"best two weeks of my life".
For Williams, this was a 14th grand slam title and another
1.15 million pounds ($1.78 million) to add to a burgeoning pool
of career cash, while Radwanska had missed out on claiming a
maiden major title in her first major final.
Barring a mid-match wobble, the chasm was equally evident in
Saturday's showdown which Williams won 6-1 5-7 6-2.
Radwanska, despite the No.1 ranking being up for grabs, was
a huge underdog going into Sunday's final, her odds lengthening
when she was hit by a respiratory illness this week.
When she went 5-0 down in the first she looked overwhelmed
by the occasion but showed bags of fight to turn the match into
a real contest as Williams went off the boil.
Therefore, it was perhaps understandable that she reflected
so philosophically on defeat.
"These are the best two weeks of my life," she told
reporters. "When practicing and playing tennis all your life, I
think it's a dream for everyone to be in the final.
"So basically I'm just very happy. Of course it's always
disappointing to lose, especially after a tough and good match.
But so very happy about my final."
It was all new for the 23-year-old Radwanska, who had never
been beyond the quarter-final of a slam before and who was her
country's first major finalist since 1939.
She had looked like a rabbit caught in headlights as
Williams blasted out of the blocks and took the first set for
the loss of only one game before a rain delay allowed her
opponent time to gather her thoughts.
"I was a little bit nervous in the beginning, especially
being in my first final," she said.
"I think I just wanted too much a little bit. I think the
break was better for me just to cool down a little bit.
"When I was going on the court the second time, I just felt
it was like a normal match. It didn't seem like a final anymore,
so there was not that much pressure.
"But then I was just trying to do everything, to play good
tennis. And I think it was a great match. She was really
playing well today."
It was Williams' first grand slam singles title since 2010
and the first since she suffered life-threatening complications
following a cut foot in 2010.
She had shown flashes of her imperious brilliance in the run
up to Saturday's match with her serve in particular proving a
Radwanska was on the receiving end of a 49-second game of
aces early in the third set as Williams, who served 102 in the
tournament, regained control of the match.
"This is the thing I can't do anything about," Radwanska
said of the ace barrage. "I mean in the second set I think it
was a little bit more windy, she didn't put that many first
serves in, and I had chances to break her back.
I did it, so that was good. But I think it's her weapon, the
serve. That's why she has won the tournament five times
($1 = 0.6449 British pounds)
(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Martyn Herman)