London, July 9 (IANS) Serena Williams won a historic 22nd Grand Slam title beating Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 in the Wimbledon final on Saturday in an hour and 21 minutes.
It was a big relief for the American as she had lost three high profile matches over the last year when trying to match Steffi Graf who holds the most number of Grand Slam titles in the Open Era. Margaret Court holds the overall record with 24 singles titles.
Roberta Vinci had thwarted Williams’ attempt at the calendar year Grand Slam at the 2015 US Open, Kerber had won at Melbourne while Muguruza had beaten her at Paris.
In a high quality final, the World No.1 dominated the rallies exchange at the outset using her big serve to good effect winning 88 percent of the points on serve. The American employed first strike tennis going for the big serves and groundstroke winners early. Williams ended up winning the shorter rallies 51-33 while Kerber did better as the rallies went longer winning the rally exchange 5 shots and over 27-21.
The two players had played each other seven times previously with Williams holding a 5-2 advantage but Kerber had won their most recent meeting winning the Australian Open final at Melbourne.
At the start of the first set, Williams had three chances to break Kerber’s opening serve but the German held on to level at 1-1. Thereafter it went on serve till 5-6 when a couple of untimely errors from the German World No. 3 gave Williams two set points.
Kerber saved one but Williams was too strong on the second forcing the error from Kerber to take the first set.
Williams had a lengthy fist pump in direction of her box to show how much the match meant to her.
In the second set, there were some lengthy rallies as Kerber showcased her great defensive skills to hold to 2-2. At 3-3, Serena faced her lone breakpoint in the match. Her response was typical of the champion.
Two huge serves, both aces and soon she was ahead 4-3.
In the next game on serve, Kerber was up 40-15 but gave up the advantage and two backhand errors gave the defending champion the crucial break in the second set.
Williams closed the match in style with three unreturned serves and a forehand winner. At the end of the match, she was visibly overcome by emotions falling on her back after the triumph.
Later Williams admitted to feeling the pressure of winning a 22nd slam.
“I have definitely had some sleepless nights, if I’m just honest, with a lot of stuff. Coming so close. Feeling it, not being able to quite get there. My goal is to win always at least a Slam a year.
“It was getting down to the pressure. Obviously had some really tough losses. But, you know, if you look at the big picture, I was just thinking about, you know, getting to three finals, Grand Slam finals. I had to start looking at positives, not focusing on that one loss per tournament which really isn’t bad. Once I started focusing more on the positives, I realized that I’m pretty good. Then I started playing a little better.”
Kerber said the key to the match was the serve. “I think I played what I could today. I can just say, I mean, Serena was serving unbelievable today. At the end I was trying everything, but she deserved it today. She really played an unbelievable match. I think we both play on a really high level. I try everything. Yeah, I mean, I think I was not the one who lose the match, I think she won the match.”
(S. Rajesh can be contacted at [email protected])