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What a historic win at Wimbledon would mean for Serena Williams

If Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon tomorrow against Garbine Muguruza, she will hold all four grand slam titles at once, a feat she conquered once before 12 years ago. Judy Woodruff talks to Tom Perrotta, sports correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And now to Wimbledon, where Serena Williams reigns on.

    Tomorrow morning, the tennis great will attempt another Serena Slam, holding all four Grand Slam titles at once. She won the U.S. Open last year, and has since won the Australian and French opens. She pulled off the same feat 12 years ago.

    At 33 years old, Serena is seeded number one and she faces 21-year-old Garbine Muguruza from Spain in the finals.

    We are going to look at this latest run and the remarkable career of this woman with Tom Perrotta. He's a sports correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and he's editor-at-large for "Tennis" magazine.

    Tom Perrotta, welcome.

    You wrote, I think it was back in November, about how Serena Williams then, you said, had the right to be acclaimed the best of all time. That was eight months ago. So now it's even more so, right?

  • TOM PERROTTA, Sports Correspondent, The Wall Street Journal:

    It is even more so. It's pretty amazing what she's doing, especially at this age. She's won seven Grand Slam titles in her 30s. It's really unprecedented.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    How do you explain it?

  • TOM PERROTTA:

    It's amazing, like her resurgence.

    She's really improved her fitness and her speed and her game a lot in the last few years. She hired a new coach and has really taken off. The thing that's really the most amazing about her is the drive that she has at this age. I think most players, when they get into their 30s, a lot of times, they burn out.

    And I think a lot expected Serena Williams to burn out much earlier than this, because she won when she was so young. It's been against the narrative that everyone really expected that she's been this good for this long.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    What's different about her game today than 12 years ago, when she pulled off this remarkable feat of all four at one time?

  • TOM PERROTTA:

    Much better at defense, much steadier, better rallies, really more reliable and confident in rallies.

    And all the other stuff is still there, the killer instinct and all that. The biggest thing that separates her from everybody else and always has for her whole career is her serve. Her serve is better than anybody else on the tour by far. She can ace people seemingly whenever she needs it. It's an amazing weapon, really probably the best serve that the women's game has ever seen.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    What does she face tomorrow in this young 21-year-old opponent?

  • TOM PERROTTA:

    On paper, it's a big mismatch.

    This is her first Grand Slam final and she's only won one tournament in her life, but she's a very good player and she played fearlessly at Wimbledon so far. She's 6-feet tall. She hits very hard. She moves well. She has a very good serve herself. And she really has nothing to lose out there.

    And she sounds confident. And she was an admirer of Serena Williams when she was a kid too, and pretty similar games. And she also beat her once at the French Open a few years ago, actually gave Serena her worst ever loss in a Grand Slam. She knows that she can do it. This is a much different setting, a much bigger stage, but she has the game to do it. It's a matter of whether she will get nervous or not.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And, as you said, she's beaten her before.

    How significant in tennis history would it be if Serena Williams were to pull this off tomorrow and win, again, four Grand Slams at one time in one year?

  • TOM PERROTTA:

    It would be the second time she's done it, which is really remarkable.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Right.

  • TOM PERROTTA:

    If she went on to win the U.S. Open, she would be the first person since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win all four in one year.

    And she is only two Grand Slam titles between Graf right now for most in the Open era. Serena has 20. Graf has 22. And Serena already has the longest span in that period since 1968. Between her first Grand Slam title and her latest one, it's almost 16 years. And if she wins Wimbledon, it will be the longest in the history of the sport. It's really remarkable.

    Nobody has been this good for this long in tennis.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, just quickly, we don't want to completely ignore the men. Roger Federer had a remarkable performance today. He's the same age as Serena Williams, 33. How do you explain that?

  • TOM PERROTTA:

    Federer is — yes, he's the player that time forgot. It's pretty amazing.

    Andy Roddick is here as a commentator for the BBC. And some of us were talking to him after the match. And Roddick is a year younger than Federer. And he's already retired. He was out practicing at Wimbledon today and he rolled his ankle and hurt his foot. He was playing with a junior player.

    And Federer never seems to get hurt. He's incredibly light on his feet. His technique is beautiful. That has really helped him a lot, also a great serve, and continues to have a lot of fun out there. And he will be playing Novak Djokovic, who is the number one player in the world. They played in the final last year. Djokovic won in five sets. It was a very, very good match. And they have had a great rivalry. Federer leads 20-19. It's very close.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Tom Perrotta with The Wall Street Journal, we thank you.

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