Angelique Kerber denied Serena Williams a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam crown as she became the first German in 22 years to lift the Wimbledon title.
The American, who was bidding to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 major singles titles and an eighth title at the All England Club, was outclassed in a delayed final by a determined Kerber 6-3 6-3 on Saturday.
“I knew I had to play my best tennis against Serena. It’s my second chance (in the final). I’m the next German after Steffi to win, it’s amazing,” said Kerber, who snapped Williams’ 20-match winning run at Wimbledon.
More than two hours later than originally scheduled following the conclusion of the men’s semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Williams and Kerber walked out on Centre Court to a standing ovation from spectators and royalty, including Serena’s good friend Meghan Markle.
Williams defeated Kerber the last time the pair met, in the 2016 title clash, and the German 11th seed was out for revenge.
The pair traded early breaks before Kerber was forced to withstand a barrage of heavy hitting from the 36-year-old to move 4-3 up. She successfully closed out the opener 6-3 having made just three unforced errors by taking her first set point after 31 minutes.
Williams, playing in only her fourth tournament since returning to the tour after having a baby, stopped the rot of five games in a row for Kerber to make it 1-1 in the second as she looked to ramp things up.
But all the momentum was with former Australian Open and US Open champion Kerber, as she landed a big blow to Williams’ hopes with a thunderous forehand winner to earn a break in the sixth game.
A hold to love by Williams forced Kerber to serve it out and the 30-year-old obliged as she kept her cool and held her nerve in a thrilling climax to wrap up an impressive win.
“It was such an amazing tournament for me. I was really happy to get this far,” Williams said. “It’s obviously disappointing, but I cannot be disappointed. I have so much to look forward to and I am just getting started.
“I look forward to continuing to be out here and do what I do best.”