They had waited throughout much of the day - variously entertained by recorded interviews with such legends as Billie Jean King - but the Wimbledon crowds were rewarded for their patience when they witnessed Venus Williams' astonishing annihilation of defending champion Maria Sharapova.
Williams was this morning still waiting to learn of her opponent in the women's final after the weather - for the first time during the past fortnight - disrupted the match between Amelie Mauresmo and Lindsay Davenport. But she will not care a jot.
The beaming smile that came with her 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 victory over Sharapova will have stayed in place throughout the night.
Davenport's charge to a place in tomorrow's denouement was halted at 6-7, 7-6, 5-3 - with the match tipping in her favour.
Williams bludgeoned her way to victory over the Russian teenager, but also demonstrated flashes of finesse in a match that enthralled the crowd on Centre Court.
Her delight was evident afterwards, even if her belief still deserted her.
"Really, my whole goal for this tournament was to play one round at a time and do the best I could in each round," said the elder of the Williams sisters, who was encouraged in her quest for a third singles title by a text message from Serena.
"My level was raised with how my opponent was playing and it is satisfying, but I've always felt I could play at this level and today I proved I could do it."
Sharapova appeared close to tears as she reflected on the loss of the title she had claimed against Serena last year.
"I'm obviously very sad," she said, "this tournament means a lot to me, more than any other tournament.
"But there's many years to come and it's just one of those things where you want to win, but you can't.
"I just played against a really good opponent, I thought we played a really good match and today it went to the better person."
Davenport, the world No 1, whose semi-final with Mauresmo was delayed by more than four hours, was once more thwarted by the weather, while on the brink of a remarkable victory.
The 29-year-old American had fought back from a set and 2-0 down and was only four points away from an eighth successive win when rain drove the players from Court One after two hours nine minutes.