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Monday, December 10, 2018
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Magnificent Serena pulls up alongside Graf
For all her resoluteness, Kerber fails to deny the American her Open-era record-equalling Major title no.22.
For Serena Williams, the journey has just begun. It is one that only a handful of athletes get the chance to undertake. But it is also one that has left some of the greatest sportspersons we know frustrated and defeated. It is not a simple road trip but a daunting trek up the tallest of peaks.
And on a glorious Saturday afternoon, in bright sunshine, Serena sighted the peak as she pulled alongside Steffi Graf, widely acclaimed as the greatest champion of the Open Era.
As she out-hit a resolute Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 in the final of the 130th Wimbledon tennis championship, it brought the American her 22nd Grand Slam singles title — the same number that Kerber’s idol and sometime advisor won.
From the time she first won a Grand Slam title as a teenager, it was clear to a few of us that here was a woman who could one day become a great champion. But along the way there were distractions — trying to become a designer — and a curious attitude to the profession that, to this day, has seldom denied her the highest of honours when she committed herself to it 100 per cent.
If, for a time, it appeared that she may not be prepared for that monkish life, then the entry of Patrick Mouratoglou to her entourage following a first round exit at Roland Garros in 2012 changed everything.
Mouratoglou was more than just a coach as he told her she could become the best of all time, and his constant presence in the players’ box infused life in an already very good champion. From that point, she has won nine out of the 17 Grand Slam championships she has played.
And now, after matching the great Graf, what is in Serena’s sights is the ascent from the land of the great to the solitary spot reserved at the mother of all peaks, to the greatest of them all. With the great champion displaying no signs of slowing down, the hardest part of the journey continues. Where it will leave her is a matter of conjecture.
“Thanks to my family and thank you all,” said Serena, not long after raising two fingers of each hand, signalling title number 22. “I have always enjoyed playing Angelique. She brings out the best in me,” said the champion. Last year, after winning here, she became the oldest woman to win a Major title in the Open Era, at 33 years and 289 days. A year older, she still seems hungrier than ever.
Kerber, for her part, is a tough and combative competitor. She did not simply give the match away to Serena. It was only at the Australian Open this year that the German left-hander had beaten Serena to stop her short of Graf’s record.... More
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