Tuesday 20 February 2018

Wimbledon 2012: Warrior queen Williams hits vintage form to end Kvitova's reign

Kevin Garside

What do you get when you combine 120mph serves, velvet drop shots and skirts? A woman almost impossible to beat on grass.

Outgoing champion Petra Kvitova was the latest to stand in the Serena Williams coconut shy and wither. She described her Centre Court experience yesterday as "big­difficult". We knew what she meant.

The effort and will required to contest a Williams service game inevitably heaps pressure on one's own. Perhaps now that her title has gone, Kvitova will understand better what she had. Her season as Wimbledon champion has been a learning experience like no other.

She is the only member of the women's top 10 not to have won a title this year, which suggests that she is still coming to terms with all that being a champion means.

"I'm sorry to leave in the chorus line but I have something to build on," Kvitova said.

Williams is two victories from a fifth Wimbledon crown and 14th Grand Slam title. There is nothing about the experience that is new to her. And, at 30, there is no obvious sign of a diminution of her athletic attributes.

You have no trouble believing her when she says she does not walk in fear when the mob closes in for that picture or autograph.

My money would be on Williams were the melee ever to turn ugly. This is not to question her femininity, only to pay tribute to her physicality and spirit. She is the embodiment of Wimbledon's warrior queen, a woman to follow into the fire.

Kvitova was smoked 6-3 7-5. She left nothing on the court. Every ounce of her competitive fibre was deployed in this quarter-final. And on the odd occasion when Williams dipped, Kvitova climbed into the ball with a fearsome intensity.

But when her eye is in, her technique sound and her focus sharp, Williams is just too good.

The baseline scramble with Kvitova dominating game point at 3-3 on serve in the second set was quintessential Williams; falling over, getting up, contriving a shot of sorts, sprinting to get her racket on the incoming missile.

Williams lost the point and the game, but the effort expended by Kvitova to win it cost her any chance of contesting the next. In the blink of an eye the ball was back in Kvitova's hand and so the cycle repeated.

Kvitova had to wait an hour before fashioning a break point. It coincided with set point. Williams blasted her response to the affront. Deuce. Two points later it was "Game, Ms Williams", the final point decided in part by a shot rifled straight at her.

After firing three more aces at Kvitova to close out the match, Williams wasn't even out of breath. "I had nothing to lose. I am enjoying every minute of this, having the time of my life," said the American, who now meets Victoria Azarenka, 6-3 7-6 conqueror of Tamira Paszek.

Angelique Kerber beat Sabine Lisicki in a thrilling German derby. After ousting No1 seed Maria Sharapova, Lisicki appeared hungover in the first set and had to save three match points in the second. Lisicki served for the match at 5-3 in the third but could not convert, and on her fifth match point Kerber made it home 6-3 6-7 7-5. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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