Former World No.1 Angelique Kerber became the first German since Stefanie Graf to win at Wimbledon, capturing her third Grand Slam and defeating 23-time major champion Serena Williams in straight sets.
David Kane
July 14, 2018

LONDON, Great Britain - Former World No.1 Angelique Kerber moved within one major title of a Career Grand Slam on Saturday, defeating 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, 6-3, 6-3, to win her first Wimbledon title.

"I was quite nervous before the match," Kerber admitted in her post-victory press conference. "But I was trying to told myself, go out there and play your best match, because I know that against Serena I have to play my best tennis, especially in the important moments.

"At the end I was quite starting to being quite nervous. I knew that I had to take my first chance because you never know with her. She is fighting until the last one.

"I think it's just amazing. I cannot describe this feeling because when I was a kid I was always dreaming for this moment. To win Wimbledon, it's something really special in my career."

The 30-year-old German capped off a phenomenal fortnight with an emphatic win over Williams, a seven-time champion, after 67 minutes on Centre Court to become the first German since Stefanie Graf in 1996 to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish.

On opposite sides of the net for the first time since the 2016 Wimbledon Championships, Kerber and Williams have played their last three encounters in Grand Slam finals, with the German winning her maiden major title at that year's Australian Open and the American coming through six months later at the All England Club.

"Playing finals against Serena, you know that she is playing her best tennis. That's the matches that she loves. Especially on the center courts. I was trying to not thinking too much that I 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 the last months, to go there, to play against the best ones, and going for it. I mean, it's not so easy. It's easier to say. You just can do your best, then at the end of the match you can say you won or you lost."

Each woman had dropped just one set en route to the final - Kerber to young American Claire Liu and Williams to Italian veteran Camila Giorgi - and both began on fairly even footing as they exchanged breaks to start the match.

Kerber has been in the midst of a career renaissance after a disappointing 2017 season; after hiring famed coach Wim Fissette, she regained her former consistency and is the only woman to reach the quarterfinals or better at all three majors this season. 

"I think without 2017 I couldn't win this tournament. I think I learned a lot from last year, with all the expectations, 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.

"I try to enjoy every single moment now, also to find that motivation after 2016, which was amazing. I thought to have such a year again is impossible. But now I just try to imimprove my game, thinking not too much about the results, trying to being a better tennis player, a better person, yeah, trying to enjoying my tennis again."

She quickly picked up steam once the first set hit three games apiece, breaking serve twice in a row to take the lead after 32 minutes on Centre Court.

Undaunted by the deficit, Serena did all she could to reverse the momentum in her first Grand Slam final since marrying and giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr, battling through several tough games to keep Kerber guessing.

"It was a great opportunity for me," she said after the match. "You know, I didn't know a couple of months ago where I was, where I would be, how I would do, how I would be able to come back. It was such a long way to see light at the end of the road kind of.

"So I think these two weeks have really showed me that, 'Okay, I can compete.' Obviously I can compete for the long run in a Grand Slam. I can, you know, come out and be a contender to win Grand Slams."

Having already broken the prestigious Open Era record previously held by Stefanie Graf at the 2017 Australian Open, the 36-year-old was looking to tie Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 in just her second attempt and become the first mother to win Wimbledon since Evonne Goolagong in 1980.

"I just feel like she just did a lot of different shots today. It wasn't just one shot. It was lots and lots and lots of different shots. I just know going next time, I'll just be ready for that."

"I feel like I have a ways to go. This is literally just the beginning, literally just the beginning. It's good to just continue that path and just continue to keep going for me."

In the end, Kerber proved too strong in her fourth career major final appearance, surging to a 5-2 lead and withstanding one last stand from Williams to secure the win. Playing pitch-perfect counterpunching, the German struck 11 winners to just five unforced errors over two sets, with Serena striking 23 winners but 24 unforced errors throughout.

"I'm 30 already," Kerber said. "I think I've had so many experiences over the years. I know the feeling to going out there in the semifinals, playing the finals. I played here once the final already, so I knew what to expect. I think that helps me also to being a little bit relaxed today. 

"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"

The win moves Kerber back into the world's Top 4 on the WTA rankings for the first time since August 2017, and all the way up to No.2 on the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard.

"I was always believing that I can play the big matches. I think it was a process. I think it was a long way with a lot of up and downs. I was believing I could do it one day.

"I think also without my team, my family, that believed in me as well, that supported me from a young age, I wouldn't be here. Of course, there were a few tough moments also in my career. To being now on top I think it's not only about me, it's also about my team around that's won the title."