Lawn Tennis, Australian Open, Lawn Tennis Magazine
Suddenly Last Summer; Serena Williams Hits Top Form

By Tripp Mateschitz, Lawn Tennis Correspondent, Posted: Thursday, January 29, 2009 5:37pm PST USA
Suddenly Last Summer; Serena Williams Hits Top Form, Australian Open, Lawn Tennis Magazine MELBOURNE--( After failing to reach a grand slam final in her prior five attempts, suddenly last summer, Serena Williams of the USA, who once referred to herself as “a struggling actress” eliminated the drama from her tennis game in route to reaching the finals of the last three grand slams.

Williams, who holds a number of tennis' records already at the age of 27, could Saturday at the Australian Open final become the first female tennis player since Justine Henin of Belgium to win back to back grand slams titles. Henin won the US Open in 2003 then won the Australian Open the following year.

Serena Williams of the USA
Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia, Lawn Tennis Magazine
Where her sister, Venus Williams' game might be a Ferrari, more flashy and nice to look at, Serena's game could be a Maserati: overall more powerful and more solid under the hood.

Serena, the younger of the two tennis playing Williams sisters oftentimes will wear her heart on her sleeve where Venus, the WTA Tour world champion and a five time Wimbledon singles champion, is ice queen.

And where her sister, Venus Williams' game might be a Ferrari, more flashy and nice to look at, Serena's game could be a Maserati: overall more powerful and more solid under the hood.

Serena Williams won her first grand slam title at the 1999 US Open in only her second attempt in New York City. Starting in 2002, Serena won the French Open, Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open, tennis' four grand slams, back to back beating Venus in the final each time to become the last tennis player since Steffi Graf of Germany in 1988 to hold the four titles all at once.

Then in July after losing to Venus in the Wimbledon final, Serena in September beat the current world number one Jelena Jankovic of Serbia in the US Open final 6-4, 7-5 to take her ninth singles grand slam title. Serena, the Australian Open champion in 2003, 2005 and 2007, is set to replace Jankovic as the world number one should she win the Melbourne final Saturday night.

In the final, Williams meets the 3rd seeded Dinara Safina of Russia, who like Williams scored breakthrough wins last summer. After snapping Williams' 17 match winning streak last May, Safina herself won 15 matches in a row during the course of the United States summer hardcourt circuit.

Williams however would defeat Safina in an anticlimatic US Open semifinal 6-3, 6-2. Head to head Williams leads Safina 5-1 and possesses a more devastating version of the same aggressive baseline game. Safina defeated the 7th seeded Vera Zvonereva of Russia 6-3, 7-6(7-4) in Thursday's semifinals.

Williams entered her Melbourne semifinal match today (Wednesday night USA) having lost to the Russian 4th seeded Elena Dementieva three times in a row in part due to her errors and mental letdowns. After dropping the first set 6-3, Dementieva took a 3-0 second set lead with forceful groundstrokes. But Williams ultimately fought off the challenge as she elevated her game while Dementieva continued to struggle on her serve.

Following several pinpoint powerful forehands, backhands and serves, Williams took what could have been a much more dramatic match with a somewhat surprising ease 6-3, 6-4.

“I haven’t moved like that for a while, so I was a little shocked,” said Williams. “A perfect match for me? Oh, no. But it was definitely better.”

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