AT last we are allowed to talk about it: The Serena Slam. Now that Serena Williams has won her sixth Wimbledon title, her 21st major trophy and holds all four of the major championships titles, she will finally talk about her achievements. Actually, she will gush about them, if you let her.
“The moment is still setting in a little bit,” she said. “I’m just really excited about it because I didn’t want to talk about the Serena Slam. I honestly wouldn’t have thought last year, after winning the US Open, I would win the Serena Slam at all. It’s super exciting. I just knew I wanted to win Wimbledon this year. Of all the Grand Slams, it was the one I hadn’t won in a while. It was like, I really want to win Wimbledon. It happened. Just amazing. It feels really, really good.”
As she had done 20 times before in Grand Slam finals, Williams was just too strong, too experienced and too utterly, ferociously and terrifyingly set on winning against Garbine Muguruza and completed her self-named slam 6-4, 6-4. Williams was nervous at times – she served three double faults to lose her first service game – and Muguruza had her chances to make the great champion fret.
The 21-year-old Venezuelan-born Spaniard went for her winners when she got near the ball and led 2-1, 3-1 and then 4-1. But then Williams settled, won eight of the next nine games and was within four points of the Venus Rosewater Dish at 5-1 in the second set. Muguruza did not crumble but, rather, Williams was in her pomp. And then the world No.1 proved herself to be human after all. She was still far too good to be beaten by the debutante finalist but she stuttered and fluttered all the same.
“I just learned that all the people are nervous, even Serena, in a final, because I saw it,” Muguruza said. “I learned that she’s nervous, even though she played I don’t know how many finals. And she finds the way, being so nervous, to serve, to hit winners. She’s world No.1. That’s what I saw today. I see it every day.”
Williams, nervy as she appeared, was not to be beaten and as she broke the Spaniard to love to win the match, everyone, including Alison Hughes, the umpire, seemed taken aback that it was all over so soon. As Muguruza’s forehand sailed well wide, everyone stopped. Hughes announced: “Game,” and then she paused. Everyone waited. “Set and match”. It was over and a stunned Williams could barely believe it.
“I wasn’t sure, because I won the point, but I was looking at the umpire,” Williams explained. “I was so focused. She had started playing really well. I wasn’t sure if I was going to serve again. I was so focused. I was like, OK, is that the match? Is that it? Plus she didn’t say, game, set, match really loud, so I wasn’t sure if there was some type of call or something. I didn’t hear her at all say, game, set, match. So I was just really confused.”
Throughout the two weeks of her stay in SW19, she had banned all talk of the Serena Slam. The Grand Slam is still off limits, mind you, but we can all worry about that in six weeks or so when the tour moves on to the US Open. If the pressure was almost unbearable in SW19, it will be suffocating in New York as she attempts to write a new chapter in the record books but few would bet against her doing it.
The Grand Slam – winning all the major titles in one calendar year – has only been done three times before: Maureen Connolly in 1953, Margaret Court in 1970 and Steffi Graff in 1988. As for the Serena Slam, the non-calendar year Grand Slam, that, too had only been done three times before. Martina Navratilova did it in 1983-4, Steffi Graf did it in 1993-4 and Williams did it 12 years ago starting with the French Open in 2002 and rounding it off with the Australian Open in 2003. Now there is the US Open to contend with and the Grand Slam itself. But having come through the nerves and tension in the lead-up to the Serena Slam, she thinks she can cope with the next couple of months and whatever happens in New York. She has learned that much, at least, in the past fortnight in which she came through many tests. “I’ve learned a lot,” she said. “That I’m able to do anything. Anyone’s able to do anything they really set their mind to.”
And Williams has set her heart and mind on the Grand Slam. Heaven help anyone who gets in her way.