Serena Williams' 2015 Wimbledon Report Card
Serena Williams is going for her fourth straight major at Wimbledon. espnW will monitor her progress with a report card after each round.
Final: Serena Williams def. Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 6-4
The Centre Court crowd cheered hard for underdog Garbine Muguruza as the second set wound down Saturday in the women's final at Wimbledon, perhaps because they admired her gutty play, probably because they wanted to prolong a great match. Despite the 6-4, 6-4 score, Serena Williams had to earn her sixth Wimbledon and 21st career Grand Slam title in a dramatic 1 hour and 23 minutes. And in the end, she showed why she is the greatest player in the game.
Serve: Once again, every time she was in trouble, the biggest weapon in all of tennis came to the rescue to bail Serena out. After two double faults in the third game of the second set, Williams unleashed serves of 122 and 123 mph on two of the next three points. In all, she had 12 aces and eight double faults. Grade: A
Shot-making: Against an opponent who used her pace to generate even more of her own power, Williams is still the most dominant player in the game. She simply hit harder, hit more lines, became more aggressive at the net and hit more winners -- 29 to just 15 unforced errors. Grade: A
Attitude: Williams was all business against a young competitor who was also focused. She sent a few prayers to the heavens while uncharacteristically struggling at times with her serve, not to mention her nerve. Grade: A-
Overall: Williams turns her attention now to the greatest achievement in the game as she goes for a calendar-year Grand Slam at the US Open. Her 21st slam title, though it looked easy, most certainly was not, and it took Williams' overpowering serve and dominant groundstrokes to leave Muguruza in tears. Williams left no doubt as to who is the greatest player in the game with completion of the Serena Slam. Grade: A
Semifinals: Serena Williams def. Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-4
To put it simply: Williams didn't even need her A-game to beat Sharapova, who had no Plan B in their Wimbledon semifinal. Williams beat Sharapova 6-2, 6-4, her 18th win in 20 matches between the WTA stars. The 20-time Grand Slam champion moved on to her 25th Grand Slam final, and will take on Garbine Muguruza, an intriguing opponent who beat her last year at the French Open. But Williams is 20-4 in major finals and has never looked better.
Serve: Williams ripped seven aces in the first set, 13 in all. Her second serve harder than Sharapova's first much of the time, Williams' sheer power and consistency was evident in comparison to Sharapova's erratic toss and serve in the 90s. Williams never even allowed Sharapova a break point. Grade: A
Shot-making: Williams struggled a bit on her serve return midway through the second set, but it was almost a case of boredom. Otherwise, she pinned Sharapova deep and churned out 29 winners to just 15 unforced errors, a ratio that would be difficult for anybody to overcome. Grade: A-minus
Attitude: Williams gave herself a little lecture early in the second set -- "What are you doing?" -- as if going down 15-30 on her service game was unforgivable. But other than that, Williams was on point and matter-of-fact in the hour-plus match. Grade: A
Overall: The combination of Williams' serve, power and superior athleticism was on full display and combined to give Sharapova virtually no chance. Williams is now 86-12 on grass and is the odds-on favorite to win her sixth Wimbledon title and fourth consecutive Slam title for the Serena Slam. Grade: A
Quarterfinals: Serena Williams def. Victoria Azarenka 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
Just as her third-round victory over sister Venus allowed Serena to take a deep breath for the rest of the tournament, her toughest test yet against Victoria Azarenka prepared her to close Wimbledon out. Williams' 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory Tuesday sent her into the semifinals against Maria Sharapova, against whom she has a 17-2 record. Bottom line: Venus and Vika could not have prepared Williams any better to go after Grand Slam No. 21.
Serve: Williams is simply the best at firing her most lethal serves when she needs them the most, ripping 17 aces in the match, including three in the last game. For the match, Williams won 80 percent of her first-serve points. Grade: A
Shot-making: With 46 winners to just 12 unforced errors, and 20 winners for Azarenka to 11 errors, it was a clean, high-level tennis match. Williams jumped all over Azarenka's second serve, winning 63 percent of those points. Grade: A
Attitude: Fired up when necessary to rally in the second set against the best shrieker in the game in Azarenka (sorry, Maria), and focused when she needed to be to close it out in the third, Williams knows herself and her opponents well enough to know what's needed when. And histrionics weren't required, just great tennis. Grade: A
Overall: Williams dispatched Azarenka in a quality match that set her up perfectly for her final two challenges, beginning with Sharapova on Thursday. Just as in the French Open, where Williams dropped the first set in four matches en route to the title, losing the first set against Azarenka only raised her play in the second and third sets. Grade: A
Round 4: Serena Williams def. Venus Williams 6-4, 6-3
Serena was masterful in the 26th meeting between the sisters. A key stat held to form: The winner of the first set between the two has now won 22 of 26 matches. More importantly, Serena was sharp, cracking her groundstrokes and ripping her service returns against the No. 16 seed and five-time Wimbledon champion, who didn't play poorly but was just under constant pressure against the best player in the world.
Serve: Serena was terrific, throwing in a few serves at 116 mph and allowing Venus little opportunity to break. Serena got in 67 percent of her first serves and finished with six aces and one double fault. Grade: A
Shot-making: In a relatively crisply played match by both, Serena was simply better. She had 36 winners against 13 unforced errors, a recipe for victory if there ever was one. Grade: A
Attitude: Usually serious and no-nonsense when she plays her big sister, Serena took care of business in straight sets, just as she should have. There was a discreet fist pump once in a while, but that was the only real emotion necessary. Grade: A
Overall: This performance by Serena should put a slight chill through the rest of the women's draw, just one more reminder why, even against very good competition like sister Venus, when she is on and focused and limiting unforced errors, absolutely no one can beat Serena. This was a perfect day for her, with little emotion and just a polished, solid victory. Grade: A
Round 3: Serena Williams def. Heather Watson 6-2, 4-6, 7-5
When Heather Watson won her sixth game in a row to take a 3-0 lead in the final set and was serving for 4-0, Williams looked thoroughly shaken and all but beaten. She would come back, as champions do, with four games in a row to take a 4-3 lead. Williams then broke back again for a 5-5 tie and showed her true mettle, advancing to a much-anticipated fourth-round match against sister Venus on Monday with a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 win on her third match point.
Serve: Pulling out the occasional 122 mph rocket in her arsenal, Williams' serve came and went when she needed it most. She was broken three times in the third set, at love to go down 4-3, but then served like her old self to take a 6-5 lead. In all, she had 13 aces and four double faults. Grade: B
Shot-making: It became dicey late in the second set, particularly as Williams netted two consecutive returns to allow Watson to take the match into a third set. Then it really became unhinged as Watson went up two breaks on a bundle of unforced errors by Williams. In the end, a good defense by Watson was the best offense against Williams. All told, Williams had 53 winners to 33 unforced errors. Grade: B-minus
Attitude: Williams looked laser-focused in the first set but seemed to let the home crowd rattle her as she lost the second set and fell to 0-3 in the third. She rallied herself back into it, sometimes screaming midshot, and ultimately overcame her own nerves. Grade: B
Overall: It was seemingly a race to the fourth round with sister Venus as the Williamses battled concurrently at Wimbledon on Friday afternoon. But while that may have worked for Williams in the first set, she lost her typical aggressiveness against an opponent riding the wave of the home crowd and playing the tennis of her life. Afterward, Serena said Venus was playing better and has the advantage in their fourth-round showdown, but it's possible Serena made herself even stronger by surviving this one. Grade: B
Round 2: Serena Williams def. Timea Babos 6-4, 6-1
It was a long, hot day at Wimbledon on Wednesday. But Williams weathered it as well as anyone.
Facing a player better known for doubles (Timea Babos was a Wimbledon finalist last year), Williams looked cool and collected, perhaps not in top form but as dominant as she needed to be in an efficient, 59-minute victory.
Serve: With 12 aces, this was a significant ratcheting-up from her first-round victory, when she had three. She also won 82 percent of her first-serve points. She did face two break points, but saved them both. Grade: A
Shot-making: With 23 winners and just nine unforced errors, it was a significantly better performance than her first-round victory, when she had a 19-to-19 ratio. Grade: A
Attitude: Williams was relatively quiet, but why expend energy when you don't have to? Especially on a scorching day. Grade: A
Overall: All you needed to hear were Williams' comments after the match: "I'm definitely playing well, which I never say." And then even scarier for future opponents: "I hope I'm not playing my best. I like to think I have room to improve." At this point, not a lot of improvement is necessary for the five-time Wimbledon champion. Grade: A
Round 1: Serena Williams def. Margarita Gasparyan 6-4, 6-1
Serena Williams began her quest for Grand Slam singles title No. 21 not unlike the way she has begun many matches lately, with a bit of a slow start. Unlike her last major, however, when she dropped the first set four times at the French Open, Williams pulled it together against Margarita Gasparyan, an eager and athletic Russian qualifier. Williams used her superior power and big serve when necessary, and she was never really in any serious danger. For Williams, also going for her fourth consecutive Slam -- dubbed the Serena Slam after her achievement in 2002-03 -- this was just what she needed: a little challenge but no sweat at the end, taking care of business in 1 hour, 22 minutes.
Serve: The big weapon was there when she needed it, particularly with three aces in the fifth game of the first set to hold and get back on serve at 2-3. Grade: A-minus
Shot-making: After a somewhat shaky start, Serena was above-average on placement with power for 19 winners to offset 19 unforced errors. Grade: B
Attitude: Going quickly to the loud "C'mon's" to rally herself, Williams did not let her young opponent's strong start rattle her, staying patient and showing her typical confidence. Grade: A
Overall: This will go down as an easy victory for Williams, but her 20-year-old opponent, playing in just her fourth WTA main-draw event and first match at the All England Club, did not back down, using Williams' power to her advantage early on. It was a good warm-up for Williams and a strong finish. Grade: A-minus