Serena Williams (USA) bt. Garbine Muguruza (E) 6-4, 6-4
Novak Djokovic (RS) bt. Roger Federer (CH) 7-6(1), 6-7(10), 6-4, 6-3
Wimbledon has its two Singles champions for 2015, but with a total of nine such titles behind them already, neither needs a lot of introduction.
It was Novak Djokovic’s third Wimbledon crown and the first time that a man has retained the trophy since his opponent in the final Roger Federer did it in 2007. Federer was insurpassable in his semi-final with Andy Murray and, as a result, whipped an already partisan crowd into a frenzy of anticipation of a fairytale eighth title at the All England Club. But it was not to be. Andy Murray is comfortably the world’s third best player, but Novak Djokovic will often find the most effective ways of reminding us how steeply the gradient increases as you approach the summit. Federer’s serve, Murray’s undoing on Friday, was nullified in a typically relentless display of sustained excellence from the Serb. Having been broken to trail 3-2 in the first set, Djokovic laid down an indication as to whose day it was by immediately breaking back.
Had it not been Federer and had it not have been Centre Court at Wimbledon, Djokovic’s dominant performance would probably have been rewarded with a straight-sets victory. But the Swiss was in no mood to lie down without a fight, willing himself to a second set tie-break victory against the balance of all the play. A rain break briefly interrupted the start of the third, but with Djokovic already a break of serve ahead the writing was very much on the wall. As the players emerged to resume, the world number 1 looked completely within his comfort zone for the remainder of the match. Any thoughts that Federer could pull one more Wimbledon miracle out of the bag were quickly dispelled in the fourth, broken early again by the inspired Djokovic and then once more in the ninth game for the Serbian to wrap up affairs before the heavens opened again.
It’s Djokovic’s ninth Grand Slam title. Federer was seeking to extend his own record to 18, but the likelihood of him adding to his tally again seems, with his loss today, to have diminished to the point of improbability. It would be a mistake to discount Federer, either completely or at all. However, Djokovic is now 28 years old, in both the form and fitness of his life and, as Roger once was, the nucleus of his own era in men’s tennis. It’s hard to see how Federer can win any more major titles while Novak is around and, all the while Djokovic is accumulating himself. Could he one day be challenging to surpass the record of the great Federer? It is possible. It may even be approaching probable.
The women’s title went to Serena Williams, her 6th title on the grass and 21st overall, one short of equalling Steffi Graf’s record in the Open era. It also means that Williams now concurrently holds all four major titles for the second time in her career and, if she were to win a fourth consecutive US Open title in September, would complete the first calendar year Grand Slam in 27 years.
There are plenty of other articles flying around the internet about the scale of Serena’s achievement and her place in the pantheon of women’s tennis, women’s sport and sport in general. I don’t particularly have anything that I feel I can add to any of these, but to say that the kind of sustained achievement which has marked her career is a truly remarkable thing. The mental strength, emotional investment and continued application necessary far outstrips the requisite skill level. Serena Williams possesses the finest physical and mental attributes ever seen in women’s tennis.
When Serena won her first Major title, the 1999 US Open, Garbine Muguruza – her spirited final opponent who may yet prove to be a leading light in the post-Williams era – was three weeks shy of her 6th birthday. Roger Federer was still over three-and-a-half years away from winning his first Grand Slam title. During her sixteen year tenure at the top of the women’s game, Williams has battled injury, depression, a loss of motivation that saw her drop to outside of the world’s top 100 and a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. Any one of these things could easily have rendered a player without Williams’ extraordinary skill, focus and belief a spent force. Hers is one of the greatest stories in the history of professional sport and will be spoken about as long as tennis is played.