22! Williams tops Kerber at Wimbledon, ties Graf’s Slam mark | PostIndependent.com
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22! Williams tops Kerber at Wimbledon, ties Graf’s Slam mark

Serena Williams of the U.S celebrates after beating Angelique Kerber of Germany in the women's singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Saturday, July 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
AP | AP

LONDON — Serena Williams insisted she was not focused on No. 22.

Said she wouldn’t discuss it.

Kept coming close without quite getting it.



Now she finally has it. And so she can flaunt it.

Williams lifted both arms overhead and raised two fingers on each hand right there on Centre Court to show off the magic number after winning her record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title by beating Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 in the Wimbledon final on Saturday.



“Definitely had some sleepless nights, if I’m just honest, with a lot of stuff,” Williams said. “My goal is to win always at least a Slam a year. It was getting down to the pressure.”

She pulled even with Steffi Graf for the most major championships in the Open era, which began in 1968. Now Williams stands behind only Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24.

This was Williams’ seventh singles trophy at the All England Club — only Martina Navratilova, with nine, has more in the Open era — and second in a row. The victory at Wimbledon a year ago raised her Grand Slam count to 21, where it remained until Saturday.

“It’s been incredibly difficult not to think about it. I had a couple of tries this year,” Williams said during the trophy ceremony. “But it makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard I worked for it.”

There was a stunning loss to Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semifinals in September, ending Williams’ bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam. Then losses in finals to Kerber at the Australian Open, and to Garbine Muguruza at the French Open.

“Time heals,” said Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. “By losing, you realize things.”

In the rematch against the fourth-seeded Kerber — the first time in a decade two women met to decide multiple major titles in a single season — the No. 1-ranked Williams came through. This goes alongside six championships at the U.S. Open, six at the Australian Open and three at the French Open.

The 34-year-old American did it, as she often does, with nearly impeccable serving. She slammed 13 aces. She won 38 of 43 first-serve points. She faced just one break point — at 3-all in the second set, representing Kerber’s only real opening — and shut the door emphatically with aces at 117 mph and 124 mph.

There was more that Williams did well, though. Much more. Facing the left-handed Kerber’s reactive, counter-punching style, Williams dictated exchanges and compiled a 39-12 edge in winners.

Williams hammered second serves that floated in at 75 mph, breaking once in each set. She volleyed well, too, winning the point on 16 of 22 trips to the net, including a tap-in on match point. Soon, she was wrapping Kerber in a warm embrace, then holding up those fingers to symbolize “22.”


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