Serena Williams celebrated a fifth Wimbledon women's singles title, made all the sweeter by it being the first since she battled a life-threatening illness.
Williams, who now has 14 Grand Slam titles, was laid low by blood clots that kept her out of the sport for a year until the eve of last year's tournament.
But the American buried all those fears with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win in the final over Polish world number three Agnieszka Radwanska.
"I can't describe it. I almost didn't make it a few years ago. I was in hospital and I thought I'd never be here again, so this makes it so worth it," said Williams, the first 30-year-old since Martina Navratilova in 1990 to take the title at the All England Club.
"It's all the sweeter. I was so down but you never give up. You have to continue," added Williams, who won her first Wimbledon title in 2002.
Radwanska, bidding to become the first Pole to win a major title, had been laid low by a respiratory illness in recent days but battled hard before losing.
It was her third defeat in three matches against Serena, but the first time she had taken a set off the champion.
"I am very proud to have got to the final. I am still shaking but I tried, it just wasn't my day," said the 23-year-old, who was fighting back tears after the final.
"I have been unlucky here, playing in the wind and the rain, but I still played some great matches."
Meanwhile, three-times men's champion John McEnroe hailed Serena as the greatest women's player he has ever seen.
"I've seen them all, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert was a machine ... Monica Seles, Steffi Graf but I believe we're watching the greatest female player that's ever played this game," McEnroe told the BBC.
"It's an elite, exclusive and an amazing club that she's part of."
Lindsay Davenport, the 1999 champion, praised Serena and sister Venus who also has five Wimbledon crowns.
"It all started to go downhill for her two years ago after she won Wimbledon," said Davenport.
"She was fighting last year to regain confidence on court. It's been a long road and that's the most emotional I've seen her win a Grand Slam.
"Given the way the French Open went for her, going out in the first round, a lot of people questioned her nerve but she held it together well in the final.
"Five Wimbledon singles titles ... we thought it was amazing with Venus. It's amazing to think about two sisters accumulating 10 Wimbledon titles in the last 13 years."
AFPTags: sport, tennis, united-kingdom, united-states First posted July 08, 2012 06:01:43