Sublime Serving Makes a Difference
Serena Williams faced one break point today. She hit an ace. When serving for the match, Serena got to 40-0 with 3 unreturnable serves. Serena put away a volley to win the match. This was a fitting way to end this match as she had a hard time putting volleys away in the 2016 Australian Open final. When it was over, Serena Williams won her 7th Wimbledon title. If anyone dismisses this victory as the product of her serve, an important counter-argument is that tennis players serve half of the games in a match so the serve is an integral and internal part of the game.
The undisputed number 1 & 2 in the world. #respect pic.twitter.com/8ohkbb7jn8
— WTA Germans (@aufgehtstennis) July 9, 2016
Angelique Kerber is a True #2
I have written many times about how often Kerber fought and won titles in 2015. When she opened 2016 with an Australian Open win, it looked like we had a candidate for a sustained rivalry with Serena Williams. Her patchy play adjusting to life as a major champion was not shocking, but it didn’t solidify her position on tour either. Victoria Azarenka won Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back and appeared to be another contender. Then Vika got injured. Garbine Muguruza showed signs of life in Rome after a pretty poor 2016. Muguruza then won Roland Garros with big serving and big hitting. Muguruza’s post-Roland Garros hangover led in part to an early loss at Wimbledon. If Garbine adjusts quickly to being a major winner and Vika gets healthy, the top tier of tennis will have Serena facing Vika and Garbine. They are two powerful athletes who are not simply living and dying off of Serena’s error count.
However, Kerber has emerged as a clear #2 by reaching two major finals in 2016. Kerber’s tenacity, movement, and lefty counter-punching pose problems to anyone on tour. Serena served marvelously in this championship match, but Kerber served quite well and backed up her serve at a high level. If someone told the Kerber camp she would only be broken twice by a great returner, they likely would have taken that bargain. Kerber should have a nice hardcourt summer. This hardcourt season will be a great deal of fun if Kerber, Vika, and Muguruza are all playing well and pushing Serena along with a host of more defensive players *cough* Halep *cough* bringing determination to the Americas this summer.
Serena and History
Serena Williams won her 1st major in September 1999 and has won her 22nd major in July 2016. That is a remarkable stretch. Serena also added her 14th major title in doubles with Venus. Serena and Venus each have one singles gold medal and 3 gold medals in doubles. They will be seeking more gold in Rio. Serena even has 2 majors in mixed doubles. Her position in tennis history is both permanently etched and still being crafted. That is an enviable place to be. With the pressure of matching Steffi Graf’s 22 majors behind her, it will be interesting to see what more Serena adds to her legacy.
THIS. PICTURE. FOREVER. pic.twitter.com/VybuZimhrg
— Blue Clay (@BlueClayTennis) July 9, 2016