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US Open 2012: Serena Williams comes back to win fourth crown
Question of the Day
Forget what the rankings say. Williams, who was seeded fourth, is dominating the game right now. And she’s been dominant, off and on, for more than a decade.
She won her first major title age 17 at the 1999 U.S. Open. Winning titles 13 years apart at the same Grand Slam tournament represents the longest span of success in the professional era, which began in 1968. Martina Navratilova (Wimbledon, 1978 and 1990) and Chris Evert (French Open, 1974 and 1986) had the longest previous spans of 12 years.
“Yeah, three decades — the ‘90s, 2000s, 2010s,” said Williams, who turns 31 on Sept. 26. “That’s kind of cool.”
“This is the first year … in a long time,” Williams said, “I haven’t lost my cool.”
In the 2009 semifinals, Williams was angered by a foot-fault call that resulted in a double-fault, setting up match point for her opponent, Kim Clijsters. Williams launched into a racket-brandishing tirade that resulted in a fine and a Grand Slam probation. While losing to Sam Stosur in last year’s final, Williams berated the chair umpire after being docked a point for making noise during a rally.
This time, there was a foot-fault call, too. Williams didn’t react at all immediately, finished off that game, then stared down the linesman as she walked to the sideline at the ensuing changeover. He chuckled a bit.
“I’m just happy that she got through this one without any incident and was able to try to forget all that in the past,” Price said. “Because I think that was a lot in her mind.”
Actually, by then, Williams had bigger problems to worry about.
She double-faulted to get broken in second set’s opening game, and got broken again to fall behind 4-1 in a game that featured Azarenka sliding into a running forehand winner and nearly doing a full splits. Even Williams applauded that one.
But when the game ended, Williams slapped her racket against her changeover chair.
That set was the first Williams had lost all tournament; she’d only dropped a total of 19 games through her first six matches.
While Azarenka, a 23-year-old from Belarus, doesn’t have the name recognition or bona fides of Williams, she did win the Australian Open in January, and was 32-2 (a .941 winning percentage) on hard courts in 2012. She also hadn’t dropped a three-setter all season until Sunday, going 12-0 in matches that went the distance, including victories over defending champion Stosur in the quarterfinals and 2006 winner Maria Sharapova in the semifinals.
As Sunday’s deciding set commenced, Price told her daughter from the stands, “Settle down.”
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