Serena Williams suffered an unexpected defeat to Germany’s Angelique Kerber who garnered her first major at the Australian Open final in Melbourne on Saturday, January 30, 2016. The sixth-ranked Kerber, 28, took defending champion and world No. 1 Serena Williams, 34, to the cleaners, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
Serena who was previously stopped in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open by world No. 43 Roberta Vinci, lost Saturday while trying to match Steffi Graf’s Open era count of 22 Grand Slams for the second straight major. Williams won three majors last year and eight of the last 14.
Serena who came in with a 21-4 title tilt record, spoke to reporters of the psychological hurdle she faced during the bout. ABC News quoted Williams waxing philosophical as she explained her state of mind.
“It’s interesting. I mean, every time I walk in this room, everyone expects me to win every single match, every single day of my life. As much as I would like to be a robot, I’m not. I try to. But, you know, I do the best that I can.”
Kerber came in the underdog trying to dislodge 34-year-old Serena who had a 5-1 head-to-head advantage with four in a row in straight sets. The German contender clawed a 3-1 lead out of Williams’ error-ridden start.
Explaining her approach to facing top-seeded Serena, Kerber said it was all about being a positive. USA Today quoted her description of how she unraveled Williams’ game.
“I was going out there and not thinking too much that it’s a Grand Slam final. I was trying really to enjoy the atmosphere. I was enjoying the whole two hours on court. I was going out there, trying, OK I can beat her; I beat her once. And just believe in myself. If you’re just hoping, you can’t win against her. That was my game plan: serving good, moving good and just going for it. It works.”
Working up to a 3-all, Serena blew her momentum by committing error after error that allowed Kerber to recoup. Kerber wrangled a 40-love lead after serving for the first set at 5-4, and Williams netted a forehand, rounding off the 40-minute set.
Serena asserted her defeat did not happen for want of trying. According to ABC News, she made this point clear.
“I try to win every single time I step out there, every single point, but realistically I can’t do it. Maybe someone else can, but I wasn’t able to do it. I was missing a lot off the ground, coming to the net. She kept hitting some great shots actually every time I came in. I think I kept picking the wrong shots coming into it. But, honestly, it’s something to learn from, just to try to get better.”
Williams broke for a 3-1 lead in the second set as she improved her footwork and rallied her skill-set advantage. She clinched 6-3 for the set on Kerber touching the net with her forehand.
For the deciding set, Kerber won the opening game, followed by a break point against Serena with a forehand passing shot down the line, to accomplish a 14-stroke rally. The German broke on the next point, and Williams broke back, but couldn’t hold serve in a sixth game intensified by a 16-point back-and-forth. Kerber broke on her fifth chance in the game, when a Williams forehand went long.
It was the most unexpected victory for Kerber who shed tears of happiness when Serena Williams acknowledged defeat by congratulating the German. After hugging the teary-eyed Williams, Kerber told BBC.
“It’s my dream come. I worked for this my whole life. It’s been such an up and down two weeks, I was match point down in the first round and had one foot in the plane to Germany. Now I have beaten Serena and won the championship. I have so many emotions, so many thoughts, but all of them good ones.”
Serena Williams’ capitulation has made Angelique Kerber the first German woman to come up on top at the Australian Open since Steffi Graf in 1994, and the first lefthander to possess the Daphne Akhurst Trophy since Monica Seles in 1996.
[Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images]