Serena Williams triumphs on Groundhog Day

Centre Court crowd grow tired of American sisters' domination as world No 1 blows away Russian to retain crown

Welcome to the Punxsutawney Open. Another Groundhog Day on the central sward here at SW19. On Friday it was the "Oohs" and "Aahs" and ultimate anguish of a semi-final defeat for a Briton in what is still called officially the gentlemen's singles, the sixth in 13 years.

Saturday afternoon it was groans of disappointment at the predictable formality of yet another routine victory for a Williams sister in the final of the ladies' competition.

Up in the Royal Box, Dame Shirley Bassey must have been tempted to break into song. It was all just a little bit of history repeating. For the ninth time in 11 years, the Venus Rosewater Dish was hoisted by a Williams, Serena dispatching the No 21 seed Vera Znonareva of Russia 6-3 6-2 in just 66 minutes. They might as well rename the thing the Venus and Serena Dish. "Can I say my thank yous?" Serena asked, with gleaming trophy in hand, interrupting a Sue Barker question, before extending her gratitude to a list of figures stretching from Jehovah to her watching sister, to whom she offered extra thanks for the loan of a lucky necklace.

There was also a "Hey, Billie, I got you!" for the benefit of Billie Jean King, whom the younger Williams sister surpassed yesterday with Grand Slam singles title number 13. It was number four at Wimbledon, putting the 28-year-old just the one down here on her 30-year-old sister.

The denizens of the Centre Court did not exactly yawn and slam down their fists in exasperated fury on their clock radios, in the style of Bill Murray, but the prevailing atmosphere was muted from the off and the press box half-empty by the start of the second set. As with the lingering British failure in the men's competition, familiarity with the wins of the Williams sisters has bred a discernible degree of contempt.

One can only wonder whether it was like this way back in the 1880s when the Renshaw twins from Warwickshire, William and Ernest, enjoyed a near-monopoly on the men's singles. Between them, they won it eight times in nine years, William racking up seven titles, a record tally he shares with Pete Sampras. They stunned the crowds and nailed the opposition with their innovation of the overhead serve. "The Renshaw Smash," it was called.

It might have been a different story yesterday had the serving been of an underarm variety. As it was, the "Williams Wallop" was far too emphatic for Zvonareva. The poor Muscovite, who at 25 was appearing in her first Grand Slam final, was blitzed by a 114mph ace on the second point of the afternoon. There was much more of that to come. There were 10 Williams aces in all, making it 90 for the tournament, 18 more than the record she set last year.

"It's not only a shot weapon," Zvonareva said afterwards of the most potent piece of armoury in the women's game. "It's also like a mental weapon. She's so confident in it that she knows she can take more risks. She can also go for more on returns."

There was much more than the mighty Wallop to admire in Williams' game, though. Or to fear, if you were unfortunate enough to be on the other side of the net. There were whipped backhands of sheer wickedness and some blistering forehands, such as the stunning passing shot with which Williams broke the serve of her nominal rival for the first time, in the eighth game of the opening set. Zvonareva dropped to her knees at the net in utter despair.

She looked a broken woman in every respect, and thus it proved. Williams wrapped up the first set 6-3, and then broke again in the opening game of the second set.

"Come on our Vera," someone shouted in broad Lancastrian, rather like Jack Duckworth urging his Missus to improve her service at the bar of the Rovers Return. Zvonareva was to return later in the day for the ladies' doubles final but there was to be no coming back for her in the face of the relentless Williams barrage.

With an overhead smash at the net, the Russian was put out of her misery. Serena had gone through the competition in complete serenity, without dropping a single set. "I honestly didn't think I was playing my best," she reflected. "I felt like my strokes were off, especially in the first week." It was a scary thought for the rest of the women's game at the end of another Groundhog Day at The All England Club.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
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.

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?