Angelique Kerber has torn up the script to land her maiden Wimbledon crown and deny Serena Williams a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title.
In a nerveless display of supreme shot-making and guile, Kerber repeated her 2016 Australian Open final triumph over Williams with a commanding 6-3 6-3 victory in Saturday’s title showdown at The All England Club.
Kerber’s defiant display also atoned for her loss to Williams on tennis’s most famous stage in 2016 and earned the German a third grand slam title to go with her Melbourne Park and US Open trophies from two years ago.
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“It’s just a dream come true again,” Kerber said after becoming the first German women’s champion since the legendary Steffi Graf won the last of her seven titles in 1996 .
“I knew that I had to play my best tennis against a champion like Serena.
“Serena you’re a great person and a champion. You’re such an inspiration for all of us and I’m sure you will have your next grand slam title soon. I’m really, really sure.”
Williams had been bidding to match Margaret Court’s all-time majors mark in her just her fourth tournament – and 15th match – back after more than a year out of the game to have daughter Alexis Olympia.
But the veteran was gracious in defeat, choking back tears recalling her journey and congratulating the new champion.
“It was such an amazing tournament for me. I was really happy to get this far,” Williams said.
“It’s obviously disappointing but I can’t be disappointed; I have so much to look forward to. I’m only just getting started.
“I look forward to continue to be out here and do what I do best.”
The 36-year-old also fell one win short of becoming the first mother to win Wimbledon since Court’s fellow Australian great Evonne Goolagong Cawley did in 1980.
“For all the mums out there I was playing for you today,” Williams said.
“I tried but Angelique played really well. She played out of her mind.
“She’s an incredible person and a really good friend, so I’m really happy for her. It’s also her first so I know she’ll enjoy it.
“Congrats again. It’s amazing.”
It was clear from the outset that Kerber had come to play, the underdog breaking the American in the very first game of the match.
Williams struck back in the fourth game to level up at before rocketing down the fastest serve of the tournament, a 201kph ace, to hit the front for the first – and only – time.
Unfazed, Kerber reeled off four games straight to sieze the opening set after 31 minutes before striking the first blow in the second with a scorching forehand winner to break Williams for a fourth time and surge ahead 5-2.
Williams held to force Kerber to serve it out but the 30-year-old refused to yield.