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After winning a second straight Wimbledon title, Serena Williams' chief competition is history

Defending champ Williams overpowers Russia's Vera Zvonareva, 6-3, 6-2, to capture her fourth Wimbledon title and her 13th major to pass Billie Jean King in career Grand Slam titles. At 28, Williams is within range of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, who each won 18.

July 03, 2010|By Diane Pucin

Reporting from Wimbledon, England — Serena Williams squints when she tries to picture the future, maybe 10 years from now when she is absolutely finished with tennis.

She thinks she might be living with her older sister Venus, and lots of dogs. "I've always dreamed of having tons of dogs," Serena said Saturday. "I've proven myself difficult to live with."

There was almost nothing Vera Zvonareva didn't find difficult about Williams on Saturday, not after Williams beat the overmatched Russian, 6-3, 6-2, a pummeling that took only 67 minutes on Centre Court in the Wimbledon final.

This was the top-seeded Williams' fourth Wimbledon championship and her 13th major overall, pushing her past Billie Jean King and into sixth place.

Williams gave a shout-out to King after her win. "Hey, Billie, I got you," Williams said. "Thirteen is my lucky number." And King suggested that Williams could threaten to surpass two other Americans on the all-time majors list.

Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova each won 18. Margaret Smith Court had 24, including 11 Australian Open titles; Steffi Graf won 22, Helen Wills Moody 19.

"If she keeps going," King said of the 28-year-old Williams, "she could become the greatest. In the last two years Serena has made a total commitment to breaking some records. I think she could go quite a long time if she pays the price and stays fit."

Against Zvonareva, Williams was both fit and exacting.

She measured her forehands and didn't try to make extravagant winners, just precise ones.

Williams corralled her serve, placing it on the lines so often that Zvonareva tried several times to challenge the results via the electronic line-judging system but usually without hope.

Zvonareva would watch the replay while already standing behind the other service box, as if she just needed to see what she couldn't believe.

As she has throughout the tournament, the 25-year-old Zvonareva buried her head in a towel during changeovers. The Russian has a history of being overcome by emotions and nerves, but she was never able to get to a point in this match where she could offer Williams a true challenge.

The final point was appropriate: a powerful overhead that was so certainly a winner that Williams threw her racket in the air before the ball bounced beyond the reach of Zvonareva.

"To have four Wimbledons is really, really exciting," Williams said.

She had spoken early in the tournament about feeling that her game wasn't sharp. "I honestly didn't think I was playing my best," she said. "I felt like my strokes were off, especially in the first week. I'm just happy to have gotten through that."

Zvonareva never got a single break point against Williams, who served 89 aces for the tournament, 59 more than anyone else. She had only nine aces Saturday, but the Williams serve kept Zvonareva flat-footed and off-balance.

Williams got the first service break of the match in the eighth game with a brilliant forehand passing shot after Zvonareva had struck a confident volley.

That single point, which the Russian had played smartly and aggressively, seemed to deflate Zvonareva, playing in her first Grand Slam event final.

Zvonareva said Saturday's result, or the fact Williams didn't lose a set in the tournament, shouldn't mean other players can't have hope. "She's beatable," Zvonareva said. "She's not a machine. It's very difficult to beat her. You have to play your best. But if you do, you can do it."

Williams, however, is not one to consider what her place in history might be. "I never think about it," she said. "I mean, maybe I'll be mentioned regardless of whether I won today or not."

Although Williams — winner of the Australian Open in January, giving her two of three Grand Slams so far this year — didn't have much interest in talking tennis records, she did have a strong opinion on another sporting matter. She thinks LeBron James should stay in Cleveland.

"He's from Ohio," she said. "He's built such a great franchise there with the Cavaliers. He's taken that team to just . . . so many people watch them. It's such a popular team now. Obviously, I like Miami, but I think it's cool that he stays in Cleveland."

And with that Williams was off. Not to Cleveland or even the United States just yet. She has to get ready for Sunday's Wimbledon champions' ball.

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