Serena ponders epitaph: `Tough, mean.. but nice as well`

Updated: Jul 04, 2010, 09:31 AM IST

London: When Serena Williams hangs up her racket for good, she wants her tennis epitaph to read: "That Serena, she was tough and she was mean on the court but she was really funny and nice off it."

For the seven opponents who were blown away by her thunderous serve over the past fortnight at Wimbledon, "tough and mean" does not quite do justice to standing on the other side of the net and being caught in the crossfire of a Williams bullet.

The American sent down a record 89 rockets - shattering her own previous tournament mark of 72 -- as she wiped the floor clean to win her fourth singles crown at the All England Club with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over an unfortunate Vera Zvonareva.

It was little wonder that after such a stupendous exhibition by her fearsome muscle-bound right arm, there was no doubt in her mind who the Venus Rosewater Dish belonged to.

"I`m going to definitely give it (the trophy) to my serve. It really deserves it," she told a select group of invited journalists as she stroked her upper right arm with her sparkling finger nails, a small red `S` inscribed on both her pinkies.

"I`m so excited, I really hope I can keep up serving like that. This is a new turn in my life and I would love to continue to do that."

If rivals are discovering that Williams`s serve is coming down harder, faster and more powerful than ever before, they can blame Samantha Stosur for the sudden transformation.

Williams was unexpectedly jettisoned out of the French Open five weeks ago by the Australian and squarely blamed her misfiring serving arm for that misadventure.

"The French Open is why my serve is so good because I thought I served so bad in my quarter-final match," said Williams, who jigged off with her 13th grand slam singles title without dropping a set.

"Usually when I go home I take a day off but I just went straight (to practice) as I said I`m gonna have to work on my serve because if I`m gonna serve like this again, I don`t know how much longer I`m gonna be out here. Maybe that happened for a reason."

The fact that she managed to change tactics within such a short space of time, and to such a devastating effect, will no doubt strike even more fear into anyone who has to face her from now on.

Her 89 aces is equivalent to winning more than 22 games to love -- leaving many rivals and officials ducking and diving for cover.

In her time, nine-times champion Martina Navratilova revelled in intimidating her rivals but on Saturday she was thankful that she never had to come face-to-face with a Williams thunderbolt.

"The serve, it`s amazing, a fantastic motion," enthused Navratilova.

"When the ball hits the racket it just sounds different from when anybody else hits it, she really pops the ball square and it comes off quicker and you can see people are on their heels all the time."

It is a wonder that Williams has not maimed anyone with her delivery and when asked who she modelled her weapon on, she replied: "I`ve always admired Pete Sampras`s serve."

"He used to serve so many aces. That was always so cool to me and I thought `wow, if I could have his serve, I`ll be really good`."

Only the very brave would disagree with her.

Bureau Report