Murray, Williams are Wimbledon champs
LONDON >> After Britain famously endured a 77-year wait between Wimbledon men's champions, Andy Murray has given the host country a pair of titles in quick succession.
Murray dulled booming serves with quick-reflex returns, played impressively mistake-free tennis while coming up with daring passing shots and beat Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (2) on Sunday for his second trophy at the All England Club since 2013 and third Grand Slam championship overall.
When he sat in his sideline chair after it was over, Murray wiped away tears with a tournament towel.
The second-seeded Murray was playing in his 11th major final, but the first against someone other than Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer.
But he didn't need to face either of those rivals this fortnight: The sixth-seeded Raonic eliminated Federer in five sets in the semifinals Friday, and also defeated the player who stunned Djokovic in the third round, Sam Querrey.
Those wins helped the 25-year-old Raonic make his debut in a Grand Slam title match — the first man representing Canada to make it that far at one of the sport's four most important tournaments.
He did it, primarily, on the strength of his speedy and intimidating serves, averaging 251/2 aces while being broken a total of only five times through six matches. But on a breezy afternoon, at a Centre Court filled with nearly 15,000 partisan fans, Murray basically shut down that integral part of Raonic's game.
It's been a rough few weeks for Britain, what with its vote to leave the European Union, the resulting drop of the pound's value, and the subsequent resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, who was seated in the front row of the Royal Box on Sunday, several seats over from Prince William and his wife, Kate.
Murray was even asked by a reporter during Wimbledon how it felt being Britain's "last hope," a question he jokingly dismissed by replying, "It's not that bad, is it? Is it that bad?"
Murray, a 29-year-old from Scotland, long dealt with the expectations and pressures that accompanied being the locals' best chance to find a new champion to succeed Fred Perry, who won the tournament in 1936. But Murray has thrived, with a counter-punching, defensive game and sublime returns of serve.
In a testament to Murray's ability as a returner — a combination of timing and dexterity — it took Raonic 36 minutes and five service games to record his first ace. Over and over, Murray managed to get the ball back, even one that came in at 147 mph.
Raonic was limited to eight aces in all, only one more than Murray.
And while Murray only managed to break Raonic once, to lead 4-3 in the opening set, that was all it took, because the tiebreakers were both one-way traffic. Just as significant: Murray took 50 of 65 points he served across the first two sets, not only never facing so much as a break point in that span but only once being taken to deuce.
Finally, at 2-all in the third, Raonic got to 15-40 for his first — and, it turned out, only — break points, thanks to a forehand return winner off an 82 mph second serve. But Murray stood tall, taking the next four points to hold, then wheeling toward his box, pumping his right fist and yelling.
He was well on his way, thanks to such clean play that he finished with a mere 12 unforced errors, while Raonic had 29.
LONDON >> Serena Williams won her record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title by beating Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 in the Wimbledon final on Saturday.
Williams pulled even with Steffi Graf for the most major championships in the Open era, which began in 1968. Now Williams stands behind only Margaret Court's all-time mark of 24.
This was Williams' seventh singles trophy at the All England Club and second in a row. Her victory at Wimbledon a year ago raised her Grand Slam count to 21, but while she came close to adding to that total since, she couldn't quite do it.
There was a stunning loss to Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semifinals in September, ending Williams' bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam. Then came losses in finals to Kerber at the Australian Open in January, and to Garbine Muguruza at the French Open last month.
But in the rematch against the fourth-seeded Kerber at Centre Court on Saturday the first time in a decade two women met to decide multiple major titles in a single season the No. 1-ranked Williams came through.
The 34-year-old American did it, as she often does, with nearly impeccable serving. She slammed 13 aces, including at least one in each of her first eight service games. She won 38 of 43 points when she put a first serve in.
And she faced just one break point at 3-all in the second set, it represented Kerber's only real opening and shut the door quickly and emphatically, with a pair of aces at 117 mph and 124 mph, her fastest of the afternoon.
There was more that Williams did well, though. So much more. Facing the left-handed Kerber's reactive, counter-punching style, Williams was by far the more aggressive player, trying to make things happen. And she did, compiling a big edge in winners, 39-12.
It was breezy, but that didn't seem to hamper Williams, whose older sister Venus sat in her guest box, a couple of seats over from music's power couple of Beyonce and Jay Z.
Kerber, a German who knows Graf well, defeated Venus in the semifinals and hadn't dropped a set on her way to the final. But on the grass that suits Williams' game so well, Kerber simply could not quite keep up with the trophy on the line.
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