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The Draw: 30 June

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Tuesday, 11 July 2017 10:21 AM BST
On This Day: Serena makes it six
It was far from straightforward, but in 2015 Serena Williams won the Ladies’ Singles for the sixth time READ MORE

When Serena Williams is around, it seems no tennis record is safe.

Serena’s sixth Ladies’ Singles Championship - on this day in 2015 - was her 21st Grand Slam triumph (without even taking into consideration the swathe of major doubles crowns with sister Venus) and made her, at 33, the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam in the Open era,  16 years after her first big win at the US Open in 1999.

Her 2015 victim was the 21-year-old Spaniard, Garbiñe Muguruza, beaten 6-4, 6-4 in a Centre Court clash perhaps best described as topsy-turvy, following a route to the final during which Serena came perilously close to a sensational derailment in the third round when the British girl, Heather Watson, had the world No.1 within two points of defeat.

Subsequently Serena steadied the ship of state in impressive style, defeating three former world number ones, her sister VenusVictoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, and she was odds-on to dish out the same treatment to Muguruza. Perhaps those odds-makers were not taking into account the Spanish woman’s 6-2, 6-2 win over Serena in the second round at the 2014 French Open, her most lopsided loss at a Grand Slam.

So perhaps it was not after all, so surprising when Serena dropped serve in the opening game, a setback largely of her own making after perpetrating three double faults, plus an over-hit forehand and similarly mistimed backhand. Having been offered a helpful push out of the starting gate, Muguruza carried on the good work and after half an hour led 4-2

Time for Serena to show a champion’s reaction, and she did so in spectacular fashion in a 20-minute burst of brilliance, winning four straight games to capture the first set, and nine out of 10 from that 2-4 nadir. So there she stood, on the brink of another Wimbledon title at 5-1 in the second set. All over? Not a chance.

For such an experienced operator on the biggest stage in tennis, Serena was suddenly consumed by nerves. Serving for the title, she was broken to love. Muguruza then made it 5-3, and when the American served for glory a second time she was once more broken, missing a championship point in the process. Sensing the possibility of a sensation, the crowd roared on the Spanish woman but she, too, was unnerved by the occasion and dropped serve to love.

As Serena acknowledged: “Definitely a little pressure towards the end. Garbiñe started hitting some great shots, so that made it even harder. But I can’t believe I am standing here with another Grand Slam. I never dreamed I would still be out here, let alone winning.”

I can’t believe I am standing here with another Grand Slam

- Serena Williams

That triumph gave Serena her second self-styled 'Serena Slam', in which she held all four major titles, the previous one having come in 2002-03. But what she really yearned for was a “true” Grand Slam, with all four captured in the same year, last achieved by Steffi Graf in 1988. Her hopes of matching Steffi dissolved at the US Open two months later, beaten in the semi-finals by Italy’s Roberta Vinci, one of the biggest upsets in tennis history.

Since then, Serena has won two more Grand Slams, including Wimbledon again last year. Following pending motherhood, it seems certain she will be back to challenge Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 majors.

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