Published November 20, 2014
Serena Williams claimed her fifth Wimbledon title on Saturday with a three-set win over Agnieszka Radwanska.
Williams won the first five games of Saturday's final, then stumbled in the second set before winning the last five games to pull out a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 victory for her 14th career Grand Slam championship and first since capturing the title at the All England Club in 2010.
The 30-year-old American's other Wimbledon victories came in 2002, 2003 and 2009, and her five championships on the hallowed lawns of the London suburb match her sister Venus' total. The sisters have combined for 10 of the last 13 Wimbledon titles.
"I always wanted everything that Venus has," Serena joked in an on-court interview after the match. "Sorry I had to copy you again Venus!"
Radwanska was appearing in her first Grand Slam final and was the first Polish player in a major title match since 1939 when Jadwiga Jedrzejowska lost in the women's title match at the French Championships.
On Saturday the roles were clearly defined in the first set, as Williams played like the experienced Grand Slam champion she is and Radwanska appeared more like a deer in headlights.
Williams won the first set in 36 minutes and was ahead 4-2 in the second after a brief rain delay between sets. Things then changed with a missed line call on a serve when Williams faced a break point for the first time in the match.
A Williams ace appeared to save the break point, but the ball was called out. A challenge showed the ball was clearly in -- the review revealing it didn't even touch a line -- and the point had to be replayed. This time, though, Williams pushed a forehand long and Radwanska evened the set at 4-4.
Williams was later serving to force a second-set tiebreaker, but quickly fell behind 15-40 and Radwanska played great defense that eventually led to a Williams backhand into the net and a surprising third set.
Radwanska struggled to hold her serve in the first game of the third, but did so and saved a pair of break points again for a 2-1 lead. Williams then took over.
Four straight aces by Williams in the next game restored her dominance and a disappointed Radwanska was broken in the very next game.
Again Williams held and Radwanska quickly fell behind 0-40 in the following game. The Pole managed to save all three break points, only to give Williams another. This time, Williams converted with a deft drop shot for a 5-2 lead and she immediately raced through the ensuing game to finish the match.
"I can't even describe it. I almost didn't make it a few years ago when I was in the hospital. Now I'm here again and I'm so happy," Williams said during the trophy presentation while noting her February 2011 emergency treatment for a hematoma as a result of a pulmonary embolism -- a blood clot in the lungs.
"I just really never dreamed of being here again after being so down. It just shows you should never give up."
It was the first women's three-set final since Amelie Mauresmo rallied for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Justine Henin in 2006, but it sure didn't look like it would go the distance during Saturday's opening set.
After Williams held serve to start the match, Radwanska struggled in her first service game. It went to five deuces before Radwanska drilled a wide forehand to give Williams the break.
Williams again held and quickly followed with another break of serve, this time on her first opportunity in the fourth game with a backhand winner.
Radwanska had to save a pair of break points in her next service game to avoid the first 6-0 opening set in a women's final since 1983 when Martina Navratilova bageled Andrea Jaeger en route to a 6-0, 6-3 win. An ace and a heavy first serve saved the two break points and another ace finally put Radwanska on the board.
There was no momentum, however, as Williams finished off the first set in the next game before rain halted play.
Radwanska came out of the nearly half-hour break and won the opening game of the second set with some help from a couple of Williams errors, but the American won the next three games, including a break at love, to again take control, which she soon after lost thanks in part to the bad line call.
Williams, the first woman of at least 30 years old to win Wimbledon since Navratilova in 1990, improved to 3-0 lifetime against Radwanska, including a pair of Wimbledon wins. She also prevailed in a quarterfinal at the All England Club four years ago.
It was also the 42nd career title for Williams and her third in 2012. She also won in Charleston and Madrid earlier this year.
The 23-year-old Radwanska, a junior Wimbledon champ in 2005, fell to 10-3 in WTA finals, including 3-1 this year. She previously won in Dubai, Miami and Brussels.
"I'm still shaking so much," Radwanska said during the trophy presentation. "I had the best two weeks of my life. Of course Serena was playing too good today but I'm just happy to be here in the final."
Radwanska showed little effect of the respiratory illness that had slowed her in the past couple of days. She was forced to withdraw from doubles because of the illness and even had to cancel Friday's media session because she was unable to speak.
A victory for Radwanska would have given her the No. 1 ranking, but she will instead rise to No. 2, while Victoria Azarenka again takes over the top spot.