Nick Bollettieri: Grace, hunger, athleticism... Serena really has got the lot

Holy mackerel! If anyone had the smallest flicker of doubt about how much this title meant to Serena Williams then it was in the first set, eighth game, with Vera Zvonareva serving, break point down.

Serena slams a pass, a winner, and drops to one knee, balls her fist, lets out a guttural scream, and punches the air. It was the breakthrough moment. Her whole demeanour said: "I want this. And now the match is heading my way, baby!"

Serena served out for the set and when Zvonareva was broken in the first game of the second set, it was effectively over. Serena climbs to sixth place on the all-time Slam singles list, with 13 titles now, four of them at Wimbledon to add to five from the Australian Open, three from the US Open and one from the French. That must be one big trophy cabinet.

The only women now ahead of Serena in numbers of Slam singles titles are a roll call of the greatest players to have held a racket: Margaret Court (24), Steffi Graf (22), Helen Wills-Moody (19), Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova (18 each). Serena overtakes Billie Jean King (12), and jeepers she's pleased about it.

Serena had another awesome day serving, and that provided the substantial foundation on which this victory was built. It wasn't all about the serve, by any means, but that serve does warrant some attention because it is, as Navratilova rightly said yesterday, the greatest serve the women's game has ever seen.

Serena hit nine aces in the match, at up to 122mph, to take her tournament total to 89 aces, the most ever by a woman at one Wimbledon. That tally made toast of her own record of 72.

Serena won 94 per cent of her first serve points. That is astonishing, pure "Gee whizz!" territory. Nobody else has those kind of numbers. They put Serena on a whole different level.

Vera's strategy was to get into the net but how could she possibly attack that serve? How could she even come in? She couldn't, and quickly she didn't. You can't. She did everything within her capabilities, and the pair went blow for blow for most of that first set. But there's only so much a girl can do when Serena is serving like that and backing it up with good all-round play.

Serena has that massive physical power as one asset, but there were others on display. She was angling the ball, trying to avoid hitting north-south as much as possible to take Zvonareva out wide. Serena's court coverage was excellent, her movement fluid. To achieve that – to be able to move that frame with such grace – takes an enormous amount of physical fitness. To make it look so easy takes one heck of a lot of time in the gym, believe me.

I've known the Williams sisters since they were little girls, and it's worth repeating: they are the finest female athletes ever, in any sport, in terms of their physical attributes. On the court, they are warriors. Off it, full of grace. And on that subject we must give Vera huge credit for reaching the final and the manner in which she played.

For a long time, she's lived in the shadow of the other Russians, and in the shadow of injuries that threatened her career. At one stage it was so bad that she feared she may never play again. Heck, it tells you something of her journey when she even invites her surgeon to sit in her box.

Her story is an inspiration, that hard work and faith do sometimes have their reward. Yes, she lost, but the salient point is that she reached the final, and was then the best that she could be. That's all you can ask of any student: be the best that you can be. I was also impressed by the eloquence of the post-match speeches on court by both girls. They both thanked their support staff. They acknowledged that many different people help them – players in an individual sport – to achieve what they do. You'd be surprised how many players don't acknowledge the help.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried