WIMBLEDON, England — Serena Williams said she feels different at this Wimbledon, “more relaxed, more at peace than I have been in the past.”
Is she trying to make believers out of us, or out of herself?
Williams, 34, has been the dominant player in women’s tennis, top-ranked the last three and a half years and most of the last seven. But in the events that matter, the Grand Slams, she hasn’t finished on top since winning last year’s Wimbledon.
That failing can be corrected Saturday when Williams plays Angelique Kerber of Germany in the final. As the No. 1 seed, Williams would be figured to win. Kerber is No. 7. Yet from that position, Williams lost to Roberta Vinci in the semifinals of the U.S. Open in September, lost to Kerber in the final of the Australian in January and lost to Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the final of the French Open in June.
Each time she had the chance to win her 22nd major and tie Steffi Graf for second behind Margaret Court’s 24, Williams lost.
“Sometimes,” she said, “when you are fighting you want something so bad, it can hinder you a little bit. Now I’m just a little more calm.”
Kerber, 28, has been helped by Graf, who is originally from Germany, and as Andre Agassi’s wife now lives in Las Vegas. “She taught me that I’m on a good way,” Kerber said before beating Williams in Australia.
“Obviously,” said Williams of Kerber, “it’s significant she beat me in Australia because that’s the last time we did play. Also, as an opponent, she’s great. She moves excellent. She’s fun to play. I’ll be motivated.”
As will Kerber.
“I’m going out there,” said Kerber, “trying not to think too much about the history of my opponent. I’m going out there to win.”