LONDON – Three quick thoughts from the Wimbledon 2015 women’s singles final, where No. 1 Serena Williams defeated No. 20 Garbine Muguruza to win her sixth Wimbledon title and 21st Grand Slam title of her career.
• A year ago, Serena Williams bowed out in the middle rounds of Wimbledon. It marked her third straight major loss and it triggered all sorts of speculation about her future. Since then? Calling Serena “dominant” fails to do justice to her achievements. It’s not simply that she has now won four straight majors encompassing 28 matches, including today’s final, a straightforward 6–4, 6–4 romp over Spain’s Garbine Muguruza. It’s how she’s earned the wins. On different surfaces and in different climates and on different continents. On days when she has dazzled and overwhelmed with her power; on days when she is far from her best and simply, defiantly won’t lose.
Today there wasn’t suspense and, save a small hiccup at the end, we had little dramatic tension. Still, Serena showed why she is ruling the sport. She played with poise. She showed off her pace, but also her precision. There was defense to leaven the offense. When Muguruza reeled off three straight games to close to 5-4 in the second set, Serena smothered hope and closed it out. Want to know what's a time violation? Serena is almost 34 now, 16 years removed from winning her first major. And she is as good as ever.
• The range of performance for first time Grand Slam finalists is a vast one. Some players are paralyzed by the occasion. Others play with a just-happy-to-be-here disposition. Every now and then, a player is blessed by a blissful naiveté and swings away. (See: Maria Sharapova in 2004.) Garbine Muguruza, a 21-year-old from Spain, started in category three, blistering the ball and sprinting to a 4-2 lead. Serena has won 17 straight three-set matches—another from the comical bits of empiricals—but at a minimum, we had a competitive match on our hands. Then Serena emerged, Muguruza was rendered an onlooker. At one point Serena won nine of ten games, turning 2-4 into 6-4, 5-1. “She makes it look so easy,” a fan caught on camera was seen mouthing.
Muguruza then gave us a glimpse of both her gifts and her make-up, winning three games before capitulating. She came here as a borderline top 20 player with promise. She leaves as a borderline top tenner destined for stardom, potentially greatness. But today, she became the 21st opponent to be Serena-ed in a major final.
• In early June, American Pharoah headed to the Belmont Stakes in Long Island, hoping to achieve the sport’s ultimate box set, the Triple Crown. Now we have Serena Williams heading to same area code to achieve tennis’ ultimate quest. Seeking to insulate herself from additional pressure, Serena refused to answer questions about the Serena Slam this week. We can also imagine the hype and attention that will precede her coming to New York.
SNAPSHOTS FROM THE WOMEN'S FINAL