The high point came Saturday on Centre Court at Wimbledon, when Williams dropped down to the grass, hands covering her face. She was all the way back, a Grand Slam champion yet again.
Her serve as good as there is, her grit as good as ever, Williams was dominant at the start and finish, beating Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 to win a fifth championship at the All England Club and 14th major title overall, ending a two-year drought.
“I just remember, I was on the couch and I didn’t leave the whole day, for two days. I was just over it. I was praying, like, ‘I can’t take any more. I’ve endured enough. Let me be able to get through this,’ ” recalled Williams, a former No. 1 whose ranking slid to 175th after a fourth-round loss at the All England Club last year, her second tournament back.
“Coming here and winning today is amazing,” she said. “It’s been an unbelievable journey for me.”
That’s why tears flowed during the on-court trophy ceremony. And why Williams squeezed tight during post-victory hugs with her parents and older sister Venus, who has five Wimbledon titles of her own – meaning that one pair of siblings who learned to play tennis on public courts in Compton, Calif., now accounts for 10 of the past 13 trophies.
A few days after winning Wimbledon for the fourth time in 2010, Serena Williams cut both feet on broken glass while leaving a restaurant in Germany. She needed two operations on her right foot.
Then she got blood clots in her lungs, for which she needed to inject herself with a blood thinner. Those shots led to a pool of blood gathering under her stomach’s skin, requiring another procedure.
“That made her realize where her life was, really, and where she really belonged and that she really loved the game,” said Williams’ mother, Oracene Price. “You never appreciate anything until you almost lose it.”
Against Radwanska, Williams was streaky at times, but also superb. She won the first five games and the last five.
She compiled a 58-13 landslide of winners. She swatted 17 aces and finished with a tournament-record 102 aces, surpassing her own mark of 89 in 2010.
One Wimbledon title wasn’t enough for Williams.
About five hours after she won her fifth singles title, she and Venus were back on Centre Court and defeated Czech duo Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-5, 6-4 in the doubles final.
It was the sisters fifth Wimbledon doubles title together.
In the men’s doubles final, Jonathan Marray, of Britain, and Frederik Nielsen, of Denmark, beat Robert Lindstedt, of Sweden, and Horia Tecau, of Romania, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-3.
Marray is the first British man to win a men’s doubles title at Wimbledon since 1936.