Serene Serena shines bright, steady

‘I can’t even describe it,’ she says. ‘I almost didn’t make it.’

Serena Williams’s serve and powerful groundstrokes were too much for Agnieszka Radwanska in Saturday’s Wimbledon title match. Williams won in three sets to match her sister Venus atop the Wimbledon women’s ranks with five championships. Enlarge photo

Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Serena Williams’s serve and powerful groundstrokes were too much for Agnieszka Radwanska in Saturday’s Wimbledon title match. Williams won in three sets to match her sister Venus atop the Wimbledon women’s ranks with five championships.

WIMBLEDON, England

Serena Williams is back, and she looks almost as good as ever.

The 30-year-old American won her fifth Wimbledon title Saturday on Centre Court, beating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 to claim her 14th major championship.

After hitting a backhand winner on match point, she fell onto her back to the grass. She then rose with a grin as big sister Venus – another five-time Wimbledon champion – smiled and applauded, along with the rest of the crowd.

After shaking hands with Radwanska, Williams climbed into the box where her family was seated. She hugged her father, Richard Williams; sister Venus; their mother, Oracene Price; and others.

“I can’t even describe it. I almost didn’t make it,” said Williams, who has battled health issues since winning the 2010 Wimbledon title. “A few years ago, you know, I was in the hospital, and now I’m here again. It’s so worth it, and I’m so happy.”

Out on court, Williams had little trouble at the start, using her hard serve and powerful groundstrokes to win the first five games and run Radwanska all over the grass.

Radwanska, who was playing in her first Grand Slam final, has been ill with a respiratory problem, making it difficult for her to speak. In the second set and already down a break, the third-seeded Pole was coughing and blowing her nose during a changeover.

But she broke Williams in the next game to even the score at 4-4, then broke again to win the second set.

Williams responded in the third set, taking the last five games of the match. She finished with 58 winners to 13 for Radwanska, including a 20-3 edge in the final set. Williams lost only eight points on her first serve.

“Aggie played so well. That’s why she has had such a great career, and so young,” Williams told the crowd. “You guys should give her another round of applause because she’s amazing, and she did an amazing job (Saturday).”

The match was played with the Centre Court roof open, and it was delayed by rain for a short time after the first set.

Radwanska would have taken over the No. 1 ranking with a win. Instead, Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka will reclaim the top spot from Maria Sharapova.

“Serena played too good (Saturday), but I’m just very happy to be here in the final,” Radwanska said. “It was not my day. I’ll try just next year. We’ll see.”

Later Saturday, Serena and Venus Williams won the Wimbledon doubles championship.

A little more than a month ago, many wrote off Williams for good. She lost in the first round of this year’s French Open, the first time she had ever exited a Grand Slam tournament that early.

But at Wimbledon, she looked every bit a champion again.

She broke her own tournament record for aces in a match with 23 against Zheng Jie in the third round. Less than a week later, she eclipsed that mark with 24 against Azarenka in the semifinals.

On Saturday, she finished with 17 aces – including four in one game – and a record 102 for the tournament.

It was Williams’ first Grand Slam title since she won here two years ago. Shortly after winning that title, Williams cut her feet on glass at a restaurant, leading to a series of health problems, including being hospitalized for blood clots in her lungs.

“I never dreamt of being here again, being so down,” Williams said. “Never give up. You can continue.”

Williams is the first woman in her 30s to win a Wimbledon title since Martina Navratilova, who won at the All England Club in 1990 when she was 33.

“I can’t even describe it. I almost didn’t make it,” said Serena Williams, who has battled health issues since winning the 2010 Wimbledon title. “A few years ago, you know, I was in the hospital, and now I’m here again. It’s so worth it, and I’m so happy.” Enlarge photo

Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

“I can’t even describe it. I almost didn’t make it,” said Serena Williams, who has battled health issues since winning the 2010 Wimbledon title. “A few years ago, you know, I was in the hospital, and now I’m here again. It’s so worth it, and I’m so happy.”