Serena Williams of the United States, center, celebrates with the...

Serena Williams of the United States, center, celebrates with the trophy after defeating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland to win the women's final match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, England. (July 7, 2012) Credit: AP

WIMBLEDON, England -- Serena Williams fell backward, tearfully, joyfully, on the sacred grass of Centre Court and at the same instant at the top of the tennis world.

"It's been an unbelievable journey for me,'' she would say.

An unbelievable journey for anyone.

From a time a year and a half ago when injuries and ailments caused her to mutter to herself, "I can't take it any more,'' to another women's Wimbledon title.

She won that Saturday, struggling with her emotions but rarely with a serve that's the best in the ladies game, defeating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, in a final Williams turned from a runaway to a nail-chomper.

"She started playing excellent grass-court tennis,'' Williams said about blowing a lead and then the second set, "and I panicked a little bit. And I shouldn't have. I usually don't.''

All it did was add some drama to her fifth Wimbledon title -- in the last 10 years -- and 14th major singles win. She and sister Venus, also a five-time winner here, have taken 10 of the last 13 women's championships here.

At 30, Serena becomes the first of her age or older to win Wimbledon since Martina Navratilova, in 1990, gained the last of her nine titles.

Williams won here in 2010, then went through a series of medical adversities, a slashed foot when she stepped on broken glass, followed by a pulmonary embolism, after which she developed a hematoma.

"There was a moment on the couch -- I didn't say the court,'' Williams sighed, "I just remember. I didn't leave the room the whole day for two days. I was praying, like I can't take it any more.

"I've endured enough. Let me be able to get through this. I didn't give up. I was so tired at that. I had a tube in my stomach, and it was draining constantly. Before that, I had a blood clot. Lung problems, two foot surgeries. I felt down, the lowest of lows.''

Now she's high, maybe not quite to the elevation she achieved when after being handed the champion's trophy, the Venus Rosewater Dish, Serena jumped about gleefully.

Before that, she had climbed into the stands to hug her father, Richard, the Williams sisters' first coach; mother, Oracene; and three women she said slept on chairs in her hospital room while she recovered, sister Isha; trainer Esther Lee and assistant Val Vogt.

"You know,'' Williams said, "coming here and winning is amazing. Literally last year, I was ranked almost 200."

Now she'll be No. 4, two slots behind Radwanska, who would have been No. 1 had she won. Which she wasn't going to do, not that she didn't put up a fight.

"She was really serving well today,'' said Radwanska, whose game is craft and guile as opposed to power, and at Wimbledon, power wins. Serena had 17 aces and a record 102 for the tournament.

"That's her weapon,'' said Radwanska, the first from Poland in any major final since 1939. "You can't do anything about it. That's why she's won the tournament five times.''

Trailing 1-2 in the third set, Williams served four straight aces while the crowd gasped and Radwanska gawked. Williams won the last five games.

A shower delayed play some 20 minutes after the first set. It took Williams 2 hours, 2 minutes to win after a 36-minute first set.

"It's the beginning of a great phase,'' said Serena, who along with Venus will be back at Wimbledon in a few weeks for the London Olympics. "I feel amazing out there."

And for good measure, Serena and Venus won the doubles title, beating Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, 7-5, 6-4.

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