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Over the years there have been those that have accused Serena Williams of not caring enough about her career in tennis. They questioned her focus and her dedication.
After winning her fifth career Wimbledon title 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 over No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska on Saturday afternoon, few can think tennis isn't everything to Williams. It wasn't only the joy she showed in victory, running into the crowd to hug her family and friends. Or the way she excitedly jumped up and down when the Duke of Kent handed her the Venus Rosewater Dish.
It was how choked up she was when former player Sue Barker interviewed her on the court. She fought to keep her composure. At 30, she was emotional about her 14th Grand Slam title and first major win since 2010 at Wimbledon.
This one obviously is special to me because it's a huge comeback for me.” -- Serena Williams, on winning Wimbledon
The player who at times was cocky and dismissive has transformed. Life intervened.
After winning her last Grand Slam trophy she had some hard times. A foot injury started her struggles in July 2010. Then she suffered a blood clot in her lungs in March 2011.
"Each title is definitely special," said No. 6 seed Williams, who will be ranked No. 4 Monday. "This one is super special. It's Wimbledon. I've wanted to win here so bad. Oh my gosh, I still can't believe that I was able to come through and win my seven matches.
"This one obviously is special to me because it's a huge comeback for me."
Williams admitted for a brief time she wallowed in a "why me" pity party.
"There was a moment I just remember I was on the couch and I didn't leave the whole day, for two days," Williams said. "I was just over it. I was praying, like I can't take any more. I've endured enough. Let me able to get through it.
"I felt like I didn't do anything to bring on that. I just felt down, the lowest of lows."
|Agnieszka Radwanska fought through illness but it was not enough against Serena Williams.|
Williams got up off that couch and, with the help of family and friends, has found her way back to winning tennis. This fortnight didn't always go so smoothly, but she overcame the hazards. She was determined after losing in the first round at the French Open in May to come here and turn things around.
Her serve was the key to her success at Wimbledon. She had 102 aces in seven matches, a Wimbledon record in the women's game. And she showed the talent that has convinced everyone she's the best women's player in the game today.
But she also displayed vulnerability in the final match that she rarely exposed before her health battles.
"She's human and you saw her get tight in this match," ESPN analyst Mary Joe Fernandez said. "She wants it so badly. I was so impressed with the way she did manage her emotions and got it together for the third."
Ahead in the final 6-1, 3-1, Williams became nervous as she was sensing victory. Radwanska, who had spent the past few days struggling from a respiratory infection, had finally settled into the match and was giving her trouble.
"I have to give credit where credit's due," Williams said. "She started playing really, really well. She started playing excellent grass court tennis, getting a lot of balls back, and I panicked a little bit and I shouldn't have."
Williams didn't underestimate Radwanska, only the second Polish citizen to reach a Grand Slam final.
"She never gave up," Williams said. "She just decided she was there to win Wimbledon as well."
The second set gone, Williams was being tagged closely in the third set by Radwanska until she served the fourth game. All aces, four in a row. It was like a boost of adrenaline that fired her up as she looked toward the finish line.
"That's my latest and greatest thing to do, is hitting four aces in a game," Williams said, smiling. "It's awesome."
Williams didn't lose another game in the match. And just like that, Williams had equaled her older sister Venus' five Wimbledon titles. And Radwanska, 23, was left hoping for another chance in a Grand Slam final.
"These are the best two weeks of my life," said Radwanska, who missed her shot at becoming the No. 1 player by losing the final. "Practicing and playing tennis all your life, I think it's a dream for everyone to be in the final."