After Wimbledon, what's next for Williams sisters?
Serena Williams is the only outdoor and indoor champion at Wimbledon since the tournament unveiled its retractable roof in 2009. That is, at least for now.
Saturday, Williams won her fifth Wimbledon title -- her 14th Grand Slam title -- in the traditional Wimbledon setting: under the sky and in the daylight.
She then teamed with her sister Venus to win their fifth Wimbledon doubles trophy in nontraditional Wimbledon style: under the roof because of rain and darkness.
The victories tugged at the heartstrings of the Williams family. Serena and Venus had come through recent adversity to reclaim their championship stature. The message was clear: Never count a Williams out.
Serena's 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska confirmed her healthy status following an injury in 2010 (she cut her right foot on broken glass and endured two surgeries) and blood clots in her lungs and the resulting complications in the winter of 2011. She was away from tennis for nearly a year after her last Wimbledon title in 2010.
Saturday's victory made the struggles she has endured worthwhile.
"It's moments like this that you're like, 'Yeah, I can do it, I can come out on top,'" Williams said to a small group of American writers late that night. "Things happen for a reason. It's time I let [everything that happened to me] go and realize I didn't do anything wrong. Things happen to everybody every day who did absolutely nothing wrong, and I'm no different. I'm human, and it happens. It's time I move on from it."
Contrary to the rankings, Williams' victory leaves most followers of the game believing she's the best player in the world. Monday's rankings will have Williams at No. 4 while Victoria Azarenka, whom Williams defeated in the semifinals 6-3, 7-6 (6), will return to No. 1.
Sure, Williams can lose. That was evident at the French Open when, for the first time, she was upset in the opening round of a Grand Slam. But on a day-in, day-out basis, she is the better athlete, better competitor, better talent.
In the final, we saw a three-dimensional Serena Williams.
There was the Serena who is untouchable in the first set. Then, the Serena who "panicked" and let herself get into trouble in the second set. And finally, the Serena who kicked into high gear at crunch time in the third set.
"No. 1 is No. 1," said Patrick Mouratoglou, the French coach whom Williams started working with in Paris after the French Open. "There is a reason, and it's the character of the people. I think she's the best example of this in women's tennis."
Mouratoglou disregards the rankings. He has seen the 120-mph serves, the attacking returns, the aggressive abandon that dominates her game.
"She has the ability to find solutions to win all the time even when she's really playing bad. She played a few very bad matches at the start of the tournament," Mouratoglou said. "She was maybe not that confident and she found a way to win."
Her singles title secured, Serena went on to win the doubles championship with Venus, who has endured a stressful year in her own right. The 32-year-old was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease, at the 2011 U.S. Open.
It's questionable how long Venus will continue playing singles. But maybe the sisters' 7-5, 6-4 doubles victory over sixth-seeded Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka -- their 13th career Grand Slam doubles trophy -- has Venus rethinking her career strategy: Is doubles the way to go? Fatigue is a symptom of her illness, and she could save energy by having to only cover half the court.
"For me, it's definitely been a journey," Venus said. "I'm sure it still will be. But I'm definitely inspired by [Serena] and everything she's done. We're not into the whole 'defeated' thing; we're into the 'conquering' thing."
Prior to the start of the doubles final, their mother, Oracene Price, admitted she's surprised that Venus -- a seven-time Grand Slam champion, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist in singles and doubles and 2008 gold medalist in doubles -- has continued to play.
"You know she's out there and can't lift her arms and stuff," Oracene Price said. "It's determination. I know this part is she wanted [to] make it to the Olympics. After that I have no idea. I think she needs to get it out of her system."
Since their teens, Venus and Serena have shared center stage in the women's game. And in Venus' mind, without their sisterly bond, their tennis life would have been very different.
"It was a match made in heaven, basically," Venus said. "We couldn't have done this without each other."