Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Facing history again, Serena 'more at peace'

Serena Williams, 0-for-2 in Grand Slam finals this year, today can tie Steffi Graf for most major titles in the Open era, men and women, with a win in the Wimbledon final.

Getty Images

Serena Williams, 0-for-2 in Grand Slam finals this year, today can tie Steffi Graf for most major titles in the Open era, men and women, with a win in the Wimbledon final.

LONDON — Maybe there is something to the theory espoused by some that Serena Williams has been having so much trouble winning her 22nd Grand Slam title because she cares too much about tying Steffi Graf's Open-era record.

Listen to the way Williams described the state of her game heading into today's Wimbledon final against Angelique Kerber:

"I feel good. I felt great in other tournaments, as well. But I feel a little different," Williams said. "I just feel more relaxed and more at peace than I may have been in the past."

A few minutes later, she was asked to elaborate on what exactly she meant.

"Well, you know, just sometimes, when you are fighting, sometimes you want something so bad, it can hinder you a little bit," Williams said. "Now I'm just a little bit more calm."

But the No. 1 player in the WTA rankings insisted that her so-close-yet-so-far pursuit of Graf's Open-era (since 1968) record had not been weighing on her.

"My goal has never been 22," Williams said after her semifinal victory over Elena Vesnina on Thursday. "I don't talk about that anymore."

After winning Wimbledon a year ago for her fourth consecutive Grand Slam title and 21st of her career, Williams lost to Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semifinals, to Kerber in the Australian Open final and to Garbine Muguruza in the French Open final.

That meeting with Williams, 34, on a hardcourt at Melbourne in January was the first major title match for Kerber, a 28-year-old from Germany who considers Graf an idol and has received advice from her.

The No. 4-seeded Kerber's left-handed, counter-punching game — watch during baseline exchanges as she bends so low that a knee touches the ground — gave Williams trouble in the Australian Open final. It also has created problems for every opponent at Wimbledon: Kerber has won all 12 sets she has played entering the final, including during a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Williams' sister Venus in the semifinals.

Might Venus offer Serena any advice about how to beat Kerber?

"I'll give her a few pointers," Venus said. "For the most part, she's got to go out there and play the match she wants to play, not that I want her to play."

Serena-Kerber II represents the first time in a decade that two women play each other in a pair of Grand Slam finals in the same season: Amelie Mauresmo defeated Justine Henin for the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles in 2006.

Can Kerber go 2-for-2 against Serena?

"I will just try to (go) out there like in Australia," Kerber said, "trying to show her, 'Okay, I'm here to win the match as well.' I know that I have to play my best tennis to beat her in the final."

Facing history again, Serena 'more at peace' 07/08/16 [Last modified: Friday, July 8, 2016 9:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning journal: Plans set for 25th anniversary season

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — The Lightning revealed some of its plans for its 25th anniversary season Friday, including a ceremony to honor the 2004 Stanley Cup team.

    fit test: Top draft pick Cal Foote puts on his Lightning jersey.
  4. Rays designate catcher Derek Norris for assignment

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — C Derek Norris tied a career-high with three hits in Friday's 15-5 win against the Orioles then was designated for assignment after the game to make room on the 25-man roster for C Wilson Ramos.

    Matt Duffy is expected to resume his baseball activities once the stitches heal.
  5. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote

    Blogs

    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.