Lightning, we common folks usually believe, never strikes the same place twice. Facts, however, state otherwise.
According to myth-busting storm chasers, lightning can strike any location twice, or even more times. It is actually inevitable over time.
Time, then, is the chief element. Father Time in the context of Serena Williams, who will be celebrating her 35th birthday in less than three months. Still, the odds for Angelique Kerber in Saturday's Wimbledon final are pretty long.
The German did well to protect Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 grand slam titles earlier this year in the Australian Open final by stopping Williams, nay stunning her with some fearless tennis and audacious drop shots.
Kerber played the part of Cinderella then, living a fairy tale that started in the first round. She was a point away from defeat in her opening match against Misaki Doi, but survived and reached the final.
It was her first grand slam final and, considering her opponent in that match, Kerber had nothing to lose. Williams, on the other hand, had everything to lose. She was chasing Graf’s record and trying her best to exorcise the demons of her loss to Roberta Vinci in the semi-final of the US Open, when she was a mere two wins away from becoming only the sixth player in tennis history, man or woman, to win all four grand slams in a calendar year.
Pressure does funny things, and even a 21-time grand slam winner is not immune. Williams’s serve, usually her greatest weapon, was erratic in that final, her movement indecisive, and her volleying wayward.
This time, however, Williams seems at peace. She has accepted the setbacks in her quest to equal Graf’s record after also losing in the final of the French Open, then to a stunning performance from Garbine Muguruza.
“I felt great in other tournaments as well, but I feel a little different,” Williams said after her 48-minute romp past Elena Vesnina in the semis. “I just feel relaxed. I feel more at peace than maybe I have been in the past.”
Williams had a bit of a slip when she was seeking grand slam No 18 as well, a number that eventually put her level with legends Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. Returning empty-handed from three majors after her 17th, she finally reached that mark on herfourth attempt. And guess what – this is her fourth attempt at No 22.
There is another number that Williams can boast: She has featured in 27 grand slam finals with six losses, and only one person has managed to beat her a second time – her elder sister Venus (2001 US Open and 2008 Wimbledon).
In fact, very few opponents can claim more than one win over Williams at grand slams, and she has played 345 matches across 64 majors with 42 losses since making her debut at the Australian Open in 1998. Only five names feature in that select group: Venus with five, Justine Henin and Jennifer Capriati with four, and Samantha Stosur and Muguruza with two.
You might notice names like Lindsay Davenport, Amelie Mauresmo, Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova are missing from that list, so you can only imagine the odds Kerber is up against today. Williams who is at her most dangerous when she is calm.
And calm, of course, does not mean Williams is content only reaching the final, which, by the way, is her seventh final in eight majors since grand slam No 18 at the 2014 US Open.
“For anyone else in this whole planet, it would be a wonderful accomplishment,” Williams said. “For me it’s about, obviously, holding the trophy and winning, which would make it a better accomplishment for me. For me, it’s not enough. But I think that’s what makes me different. That’s what makes me Serena.”
Now that sounded like a clear warning to her opponent. Or a challenge. At the Australian Open, Kerber managed to create the perfect storm. Can she do it again? Can lightning strike twice?
It can, but if Williams’s warning is any indication, expect a raging storm to show up on Centre Court today, probably a Category 22 cyclone.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport