When she was 17, Serena Williams won her first Grand Slam, the 1999 U.S. Open. On Sunday, Williams lay on her back at Arthur Ashe Court at Flushing Meadows, relieved and exhilarated after easily handling Caroline Wozniacki, 6-3, 6-3.
Between that first major as a teenager and Sunday’s conquest at 32, Williams established herself as perhaps the greatest women’s tennis player of all time. This U.S. Open title is her third in a row of six, and her 18th Grand Slam championship, tying her with legends Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.
This title was particularly rewarding and dominant. Williams had not won a major tournament this year. But from the outset, Williams was sharp and never let up.
‘When Serena is on her game,” Wozniacki said, ”there’s not much we can do.”
Williams’ serves reached as high as 120 mph. She made powerful but precise volleys, running her friend Wozniacki ragged.
In her last major, Williams was eliminated early and then had that odd episode in doubles when she lost her equilibrium.
“After Wimbledon, I was so just disappointed,” she said. “I also know I knew I need to relax more. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I don’t have to put pressure on myself.”
Instead, she pressured Wozniacki. The outcome really was never in doubt. Williams’ speed, force and precision overwhelmed her opponent. She cruised in the first set and was not seriously challenged in the second, either.
When it was over, Williams was more emotional than usual. Reaching 18 majors meant a lot to her.
“I have been trying to reach it for so long, since last year, well, since the beginning of the year,” said Williams, who received an 18-karat gold bracelet from Evert and Navratilova after the match. “I didn’t really think I would get there. I just felt so good.”