Kerber wrestles Wimbledon from Serena

 

Angelique Kerber has long been known for her defense. But the counter-puncher can really punch, even while squatting close to the grass. She out-hit Serena Williams to win the Wimbledon final 6-3, 6-3, capturing her third major (Melbourne, New York and now Wimbledon).

Kerber led early and refused to allow Serena to find her range or wrestle control of the match. Even when Serena did manage to dictate points, Kerber forced her to hit extra balls, leading to unforced errors.

Kerber also tricked Serena with slow serves around 70 mph, baiting Serena to go for too much and return too long or into the net. Varying height, spin and depth, Kerber induced Serena into the net — out of her comfort zone — and then hit deadly passing shots and even a lob volley.

Though Kerber got tight midway through the second set, she stayed aggressive enough to grab history before it could get away from her.

Serena already had achieved a moral victory by returning from complicated childbirth to the top rung of tennis within a year. She’s still perhaps the best player on the tour, but Kerber was clearly better on the day.

Here’s some of Kerber’s comments after the match.

 

Q. Your game plan obviously worked. Was it the intention to go aggressive all the way?

ANGELIQUE KERBER: To be honest, I was quite nervous before the match. 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.

You know, I was trying just being aggressive, when I have the chance going for it, because I know she served well and I have to move good, moving her as well.

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

Q. What does it feel to be back at the top of the sport again? Must feel different to 2016 after two titles.

ANGELIQUE KERBER: Here, especially after 2017 when I think nobody was expecting me so strong back, to coming back how I came, to winning my third Grand Slam, winning Wimbledon, which was always my dream. I think two weeks ago nobody expected I can go so far.

Q. How difficult was it for you to come back after 2017 where there were a lot of expectations?

ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think without 2017 I couldn’t win this tournament. 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.

Q. Is there anything or elements your coach brought to your team?

ANGELIQUE KERBER: We tried to improve my tennis from the beginning of the year. Like I said, to being more aggressive. We changed my serve a little bit. I think this is also a key point, why I play like I played now. This is also, which was the key I think, one of the keys today in this match, that I served good in the important moments, that my serve is a little bit faster than it was even last year.

Q. You played four slam finals. Each time you’ve brought some of your best tennis. I’m sure you’ve seen in the past where players have reached this stage, they freeze, get really nervous. Why do you think you’ve done differently to so many other players?

ANGELIQUE KERBER: Because I’m 30 already (smiling). I think I had so many experience 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. To going out there, to focusing on my match, not thinking that’s the final, that’s Wimbledon.

I think it’s the experience. 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.

Q. Go back to your childhood and tell us a bit of your first memories of Wimbledon.

ANGELIQUE KERBER: My first memories was watching Steffi here, to winning all the matches, winning the matches in two sets actually. I think she won here seven times. Yeah, I remember when I was watching her, that everybody was playing in white on the grass court.

Then I came here for the first time for playing juniors. I was, yeah, feeling just from the first point so good on grass, playing on grass. I never played good juniors, but on grass I was feeling good.

Yeah, I played so many great matches here in the last years. I think Wimbledon is something special. I think it’s traditional. To winning here, it’s forever. I think, yeah, nobody can take the title away from me now.

 

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