LONDON, Great Britain - A year ago, winning the Wimbledon title looked like a far off dream for Angelique Kerber.
The German had struggled to recreate the magic of her breakthrough 2016 season - which saw her rise to World No.1 after winning two Grand Slam titles - and she tumbled out of the Top 10 after failing to lift a win all year long.
But without that humbling season, Kerber said, she could have never grown enough as a player to be able to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish at Wimbledon.
“I think without 2017 I couldn't win this tournament,” Kerber told press after her straight sets win over Serena Williams in the final. “I think I learned a lot from last year, with all the expectation, all the things I go through. I learned so many things about myself, about the things around, how to deal with this, how to make my day schedule.
“You have to go through all the things, the good things, the bad things, and then you need to learn. If you do it one, two, three times, you are getting better in these things.”
Kerber also credits the experience for giving her a new perspective on the the sport - and her place in it: “I tried to enjoy every single moment now. Also to finding the motivation after 2016, which was amazing. I think to make again such a year is impossible. But now I just try to improving my game, thinking not too much about the results. Trying to being a better tennis player, a better person, and yeah, trying to enjoying my tennis again.”
The victory is even more special after overcoming Serena in the final. The American was going for her record-tying 24th Grand Slam crown, and contesting her first major final since giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia, in September.
Back in 2016, Serena denied Kerber her first chance to lift the Wimbledon trophy, defeating her 7-5, 6-3 in the final.
“Playing finals against Serena, you know that she is playing her best tennis. That's the matches that she loves. Especially on the Centre Court. I was trying to not thinking too much that I was playing against Serena. I was trying to staying on my side of the court. Staying little bit cool, being not too much emotion.
“I think that's the matches for what I was practicing for the last months, to going there, to playing against the best ones, and going for it.”
She had plenty of praise for her opponent, too, calling it “an honor” to share the Center Court once again with Serena: “Serena for me is a champion. She is one of the best players in the world. That she came back after all this up and downs, after having a baby now, playing tennis like she's playing now, that's great.
“To share with her a court, it's always an honor for me because I know she's pushing me to the limits I have to play my best tennis. To win the final against her, it's always even [more] special for me.”