Angelique Kerber defeated Serena Williams, 6-3 6-3 in Saturday’s Wimbledon final to win her third Slam title. It was a strange old Saturday as the women’s final was pushed back by two hours because of the resumption of the second men’s semi-final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, which could not finish on Friday night. I thought we might get through the whole tournament without a major scheduling issue… nope! Read on for my review and thoughts on the women’s final.
Kerber quickly went up 2-0 and made a very convincing start to the match. I was taken by how calm and composed Kerber seemed right from the get-go. Williams’s footwork looked off early on, a classic indication of nerves. Williams got on the board and reeled off three games in a row as she raised her intensity and put returns back into court. This would be the only time during the entire match when Williams was ahead in the score.
Serving at *2-3, Kerber faced her first stern test of the final. Kerber responded in emphatic fashion with three winners in a row, two off the forehand and one off the backhand, and a convincing hold to love. Kerber went onto win four games in a row to win the opening set, 6-3. It was the fourth match in a row where Kerber had won the first set by this scoreline! Williams lost her serve at 3-3 with back-to-back double faults and then dropped her serve for the third time as Kerber took control of the match.
The stats from the first set were fascinating – Williams landed 76% of first serves in, but was winning just 59% of points behind it and only 14% (!) behind the second serve. After the double faults in the game at 3-3, Williams’s serve was missing some pop. In contrast, Kerber’s second serve was holding up well and she was winning 57% of points behind it. Kerber’s balance between defence and attack was spot on – she was defending brilliantly and consistently getting one more ball back in play, but was also unleashing down-the-line when she felt it and taking a few risks.
Kerber started the second set with a confident hold to 15. She did such a good job at hitting with depth and getting Williams in awkward positions. As the match wore on, Williams tried to dominate at the net but looked so indecisive coming forward as Kerber, who we know loves a target, nailed an array of passing shot winners. Williams’s footwork was an issue during the match and this didn’t help her moving forward. Williams started to roar as she toughed out two service holds to stay level. Kerber though looked so secure on serve and Williams kept on missing returns, increasingly going for too much with an air of frustration.
Kerber looked the much better player and the scoreline soon reflected that as she broke serve to lead 4-2. Kerber served for the Championship at *5-3. At *30-0 and for the first time in the match, Kerber’s second serve began to look vulnerable. Williams battered one return away to get to 30-30. Kerber reacted in style with clutch first serves in play as she won the last two points and converted on her first match point. As expected, the pair shared a wonderful embrace 🤗🤗🤗.
ANGELIQUE KERBER IS A WIMBLEDON CHAMPION!
On Court Interviews
Class from both players 👏.
The journalists tried to get Williams to open up about the scheduling but she wasn’t giving them anything and handled it very professionally. It was nice to see her smile despite the obvious disappointment! I loved Kerber coming into press with a big beaming smile and pointing to her new members badge!
The one thing that really resonates with me right now – Kerber has played her best tennis in ALL four of her Slam finals. Even in the 2016 Wimbedon final, Kerber played a brilliant match and lost out to a peak Williams. Kerber has totally delivered and did it again with another STEADY performance, hitting 11 winners to just 5 unforced errors. She was asked about her performance in Slam finals during her press conference and put it down to experience.
The most impressive aspect of Kerber’s game during this tournament was her serve. She spoke at the start of the season about making some technical changes to it with her coach, Wim Fissette. I felt during this tournament that she was so reliable and could depend on it, particularly in the crux moments. She had full belief in her serve, notably the second serve, even against some of the most aggressive ball strikers in the game.
A few things noted from Kerber’s run and generally at Wimbledon:
- Kerber is now a French Open away from the Career Slam!
- Kerber continues a run of four Slam winners in a row who can be defined as counter-punchers (Stephens at the US Open, Wozniacki at the Australian Open and Halep at the French Open)
- Seven of the eight Wimbledon quarter-finalists played Eastbourne this year. I definitely expect Angie to be there again next year!
Kerber’s been the most consistent performer at the Slams this year and is up to #2 in the Race, almost certainly confirming her place in the last eight for Singapore. Big congrats, Angie!
For Williams, it was a tough day at the office. She looked nervous from the start and her serve wasn’t as effective as usual. Her ventures forward were so shaky and she didn’t seem to believe in them. Williams was 12 out of 24 of net point approaches and it brought back flashbacks from their Australian Open final.
Still, it was a great tournament for Williams. I think there needs to be some sense of perspective and to remember that this was only her fourth tournament in her comeback. I’m bowled over by what she has achieved on the court since giving birth to her first child. I think that this loss will actually be positive for Williams and will make her even more motivated during the US Open series.