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Friday 9 December 2016

Tennis: No stopping Williams after 'Serena Slam'

Handout picture from the AELTC of Serbia's Novak Djokovic and USA's Serena Williams on stage with their trophies at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner at the Guildhall, London
Handout picture from the AELTC of Serbia's Novak Djokovic and USA's Serena Williams on stage with their trophies at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner at the Guildhall, London

Standing a set and 5-1 up in the Wimbledon final against a Spaniard playing only her second match in tennis's most famous arena, a fourth consecutive grand slam singles title looked a formality for Serena Williams on Saturday.

She duly completed the job against Garbine Muguruza 6-4 6-4 to claim the so-called 'Serena Slam' and will head to the US Open bidding to become only the third woman to win the "calendar year" Grand Slam in the professional era.

But an angst-ridden finale in which Muguruza tenaciously fought back showed that, despite Williams's vast experience and vice-like grip on women's tennis, crossing the finishing line for a 21st grand slam title made her heart pound just as fast as when she made her first breakthrough at the 1999 US Open.

Which, for her rivals hoping that at nearly 34 the American will become blase about collecting trophies, is bad news.

"I just learned that all the people are nervous, even Serena, in a final, because I saw it," Muguruza, the first Spaniard to contest a Wimbledon women's singles showpiece match since Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in 1996.

In securing her sixth Wimbledon title and first since 2012, Williams became the oldest woman to win a grand slam in the modern era, 16 years after winning her first.

It seems unlikely anyone can stop her march into the history books at Flushing Meadows where she is unbeaten since 2011.

"I honestly wouldn't have thought last year after winning the US Open I would win the Serena Slam at all," said the world number one. "It's super exciting."

wimbledon women's final

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