Sunday, July 15, 2018 7:30 pm
Kerber halted record on Saturday’s Wimbledon final.
Ten months after the difficult birth of daughter Alexis Olympia, the 36-year-old Williams had powered into her 10th Wimbledon final and looked poised for an eighth crown.
But even for the most prolific title collector in the professional era, it proved a step too far as Kerber took full advantage of an error-strewn display by the American.
Kerber broke the mighty Williams serve three times in the opening set and again in the sixth game of the second.
she held her nerve to become the first German woman to win the title since Steffi Graf in 1996.
Meghan Markle, whose marriage to Britain’s Prince Harry was attended by Serena this year, watchef from the Royal Box.
The stage refused to set for another memorable day in the fairytale career of Williams.
She was bidding to become only the fourth mum to win a Grand Slam title in the professional era and the first at Wimbledon since Evonne Goolagong beat Chris Evert in 1980.
Her 10th Wimbledon final ended in disappointment though.
When a Williams backhand hit the net, the 30-year-old Kerber, who has now won three Grand Slams, collapsed on the dusty baseline.
She later ran to the net for a warm embrace with Williams who she lost to in the 2016 Wimbledon final.
“It’s a dream come true, Serena you are a great person and champion, such an inspiration for everyone watching,” Kerber said on Centre Court.
“I’m sure you’ll win your next Grand Slam soon so congratulations for coming back.”
Williams was close to tears as the crowd applauded her remarkable efforts.
“To all the mums out there, I was playing for you today, and I tried but Angelique played really well, she played out of her mind,” Williams said.
She was only playing her fourth tournament since returning to the Tour.
The first women’s final between two players in their 30s since 1977 missed its traditional 2pm start time.
That was because the men’s singles semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had run over from the night before.
While that was a classic, the women’s showpiece fell flat as Williams coughed up 24 unforced errors.
The powerful American had been on a 20-match winning roll at Wimbledon, a sequence that started in 2015, and had picked up speed round by round in the past fortnight.
Williams had dropped just one set en route to the final, as had Kerber, but had not faced anyone with the pedigree of the German.
Kerber had experienced a Grand Slam final victory over the American, at the 2016 Australian Open.
Left-hander Kerber displayed her rock-solid defense to break Williams in the opening game — repelling a fierce baseline onslaught to induce an error at the end of a 18-stroke rally.
Williams broke back but consecutive double-faults undermined her at 3-3 and she then struck a forehand long to hand the initiative to her opponent who quickly held for 5-3.
Kerber’s clever ball-placement kept extending the rallies and the rustiness in the Williams game was apparent as she smacked the net with a backhand on set point.
The expected backlash did not materialize even if Williams raised the intensity and decibel level.
Williams sensed a chance at 1-1 but with Kerber at 15-30 she made a dreadful hash of putting away an easy volley off a poor Kerber lob and Kerber was steadfast to keep ahead.
Serving at 2-3 15-30 Williams popped up a half volley and Kerber rammed a winner past her and the 11th-seeded German repeated the trick with another sweet forehand to lead 4-2.
Kerber looked understandably jittery at 5-3, a couple of second serves barely scraping over. But she brought up the one match point she required with a forehand bang on the baseline.
Williams then netted and will have to wait a while longer to match Margaret Court’s Grand Sam haul.
It’s just the beginning”, says beaten Serena after the final.
She said the latest chapter in her tennis life was “just beginning on Saturday after seeing her hopes of a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title dashed.
The 36-year-old lost 6-3 6-3 to Germany’s Angelique Kerber — putting on hold her bid to match Margaret Court’s Grand Slam haul.
It also stopped her joining Court, Evonne Goolagong and Kim Clijsters as the only mothers to win Grand Slam titles in the professional era.
Considering that the American suffered a difficult childbirth and needed several surgeries to remove blood clots after an emergency C-section, it was a huge achievement to contest her 10th Wimbledon final.
Far from being downhearted, though, Williams spoke afterwards of her desire to improve in time for the U.S. Open.
“I feel like I have a ways to go,” Williams said. “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.
“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.
“I think these two weeks have really showed me that I can compete. Obviously I can compete for the long run in a Grand Slam. I can come out and be a contender to win Grand Slams.
“I took a giant step at Wimbledon. But my journey has just begun. Just have to keep going.”
Williams spent a year on maternity leave and returned in March but had contested only seven matches prior to Wimbledon, arriving as the 181st-ranked player in the world.
She was bumped up to 25th seed courtesy of her seven titles at the All England Club — the most recent in 2016 — and more than justified that decision. She will now be ranked back in the top 30.
American great Billie Jean King said William’s run to the final so soon into her return showed how special she is.
“It was a big day for Serena and it didn’t come true, but let’s face it, this shows what a wonderful athlete she is,” four-time Wimbledon champion King said.
“Most people would not even be able to be here, I think by losing, it will incentivize her even more to do well for the rest of the year.
“She will want to win it really badly next year,” King said. (Reuters /NAN)