When she cranked a forehand down the line in the seventh game and milked the applause down on one knee, fist clenched, her opponent Vera Zvonareva probably knew her dream moment on Center Court had turned into mission impossible.
One brutal swing of the Williams racket was all it took to suck the belief from the 25-year-old Russian who until then had made a decent go of resisting the American master blaster in her maiden grand slam singles final.
From the seventh game of the opening set when that winner screamed off the Williams racket to seal the first service break, the defending champion turned the showpiece into a glorified lap of honor, winning 6-3 6-2 in just over an hour.
She is now sixth on the all-time list of grand slam singles titles with 13, edging above fellow American Billie Jean King who watched from the Royal Box alongside several other former Wimbledon champions.
“It means a lot because it’s 13. It’s kind of cool because I was able to pass Billie. That’s always nice,” the 28-year-old, who won the title without dropping a set, told reporters.
“I don’t know where it rates. To have four Wimbledons is really, really exciting.”
Even the onlooking Martina Navratilova who won 18 grand slam singles titles, including nine at Wimbledon, with a brand of tennis equally intimidatory, must have been glad she was safely out of range of Williams’s serve.
“The rate Serena is going she certainly may catch me and Chris Evert and who knows, even Steffi Graf’s 22 grand slams,” Navratilova said.
Zvonareva, the second lowest-ranked player to reach the women’s singles final, said William’s thunderball serve which produced a record 89 aces this fortnight, was as much a psychological weapon as a physical one.
“It’s not only the shot, it’s also in a way a mental weapon,” Zvonareva, who was aced nine times, told reporters.
As strokes go, the Williams serve is beginning to take on mythical proportions, rather like the Rafael Nadal forehand which will be unleashed on Center Court against Tomas Berdych in Sunday’s men’s singles final.
It was not just the Williams serve that overwhelmed Zvonareva on Saturday though — the top seed was faultless in every department.
On this form even sister Venus, who has five Wimbledon titles, would have struggled. Venus was home in Florida on Saturday after a surprise quarter-final exit, but she was there in name in the form of the Venus Rosewater Dish that her younger sister paraded around Center Court for a fourth time.
Serena then performed an impromptu jig inside the gleaming hallways of the All England Club’s members area after showing off the trophy to hordes of autograph hunters.
“I was really feeling Frank Sinatra-ish, Come Fly With Me, Fly Me To The moon. This old style dance. That’s what I felt like at the moment,” she said.
Zvonareva, who has battled back from ankle surgery and will return to the world’s top 10, tried to go toe to toe with Serena in the early exchanges but it was a tactic she found impossible to sustain against the irresistible top seed.
She got to deuce on the Serena serve at 1-1 but was repelled with an ace and that was about as close as she came to making a real match of it.
The Russian saved a break point at 2-3 with a pinpoint forehand but two games later the pressure coming from the other side of the net proved overwhelming.
Serena wasted one break point but refused to loosen her grip on Zvonareva and a superb topspin lob brought up another chance and the American rolled 5-3 ahead when she pounded a forehand winner after Zvonareva player a tentative volley.
From then on it was a procession with Serena winning 94 percent of points when she found the mark with her first serve.
With another title stashed in her racket bag and no sign of her insatiable appetite being satisfied, Navratilova’s prediction may be proved right but Serena seemed to have other things on her mind.
“I’m telling you, I don’t think about that kind of stuff,” Serena said when asked her opinion. “My thing is I love my dogs, I love my family, I love going to the movies, I love reading, I love going shopping.”
“I would like to be remembered, ‘yeah, she was a tennis player, but she really did a lot to inspire other people and help other people’. That’s what I think about, not about Serena Williams won X amount of grand slams.”
Easy to say that when you have 27 grand slam titles, 14 of them in doubles. Poor old Zvonareva ended the day in tears after losing the women’s doubles final with Elena Vesnina against Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova.
The men’s doubles crown went to the Austrian/German duo of Juergen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner who beat Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Romania’s Horia Tecau.