Originally posted on Philly Sports World  |  Last updated 7/7/12
Serena_williams_wins_5eef

American Serena Williams jumps for joy with the Venus Rosewater Dish, after winning her 5th Wimbeldon title and 14th Grand Slam title.

Serena Williams won her 14th Grand Slam title this morning by beating Agnieszka Radwanska, (6-1,5-7,6-2). For Williams, it was a return to the top of the game she has ruled for the past decade plus. It was her fifth Wimbeldon championship, tying her sister Venus.

This one was a bit different for Serena, though. Just under two years ago, Williams’ life was on the line. It was much more serious than just her playing career, it was literally a matter of life and death for tennis’ biggest American star.

Her long journey began a couple of weeks after winning her fourth Wimbeldon title in 2010. While leaving a restaurant in Munich, Germany, a waiter dropped a glass. The glass shattered and cut Serena Williams’ right foot and severed a tendon. Serena didn’t realize how serious the issue was at first, but went to have 18 stitches to close her wound.  She played an exhibition event the next day, but knew something wasn’t quite right with her foot. Williams had to have to two surgeries to repair her extensor hallucis longus tendon. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she developed blood clots as a result of the surgery.

One of those blood clots loosened and lodged in the pulmonary artery of the lung. Pulmonary embolism is a serious medical condition that can be fatal an estimated 30% of the time. Long periods of immobility and air travel back and forth from New York to Los Angeles probably contributed to the issues. Williams was hospitalized, her health and her future in tennis were very unclear.

After nearly a year long absence, Serena Williams returned to Wimbeldon last year. She was the defending Champion, but clearly not at the top of her game. Since, Williams has had mixed results. Last month in Paris, Williams lost in the first round of the French Open. It was the first time in her long career that she had lost in the 1st round of a Grand Slam Event. Some began to doubt whether she’d ever be able to return to the dominance she had displayed in the past.

Even during her two week run at this year’s Wimbeldon, she had moments where it didn’t appear she was completely back. Shaky play and mental lapses seemed to limit her chances of making it through the draw, and that was only compounded by the stiff competition she saw in the draw itself.  Williams was taken to 3 sets by Chinese star Jie Zheng in the third round, and again in the 4th round by unseeded Yaroslava Shvedova.  She then faced defending champion Petra Kvitova in the quarters and soon to be World #1 Victoria Azarenka in the semis.

When the second week of the tournament arrived, so did Serena’s confidence. Suddenly, her familiar style of tennis was back. Williams cruised through the first set of this morning’s match, handily winning it 6-1. While up a set and a break at 4-2 in the second set, it appeared as though she’d coast to victory. Radwanska, a 23 year old from Poland, was a worthy opponent though and staged an improbable comeback, stealing the second set with two breaks of Williams’ amazing serve to even the match.

Williams appeared tight through the first few games of the deciding third set, but soon regained her timing. Williams blasted 4 straight aces to take a third set lead that she would never relinquish. Williams finished with a tournament record 102 aces over the two week span. She had more aces than anyone, male or female, this year.

After hitting a backhand winner to finish the match off, Williams laid on the grass of Centre Court in disbelief.

“I’ve always wanted what Venus has.” Serena Williams joked about tying her older sister with 5 Wimbeldon Titles. “I can’t even describe it. I almost didn’t make it. A few years ago, you know, I was in the hospital, and now I’m here again. It’s so worth it, and I’m so happy. It’s been an unbelievable journey for me. … So I think it’s definitely the beginning of something great. I hope it is.”

After battling so much over the past couple of years, this was a sweet victory for Serena.  We too, hope this is the start of another great run for an incredible champion.

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