Angelique Kerber denied Serena Williams a fairytale eighth Wimbledon title and a shared slice of history with a straight-sets victory in the women’s singles final.
Williams was aiming to match Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam singles titles after a remarkable run just 10 months on from the birth of her first child.
However, Kerber’s vintage defensive skills enabled the German to neutralise her opponent’s immense power and earned the 11th seed – guilty of just five unforced errors in the match – a 6-3 6-3 victory on Centre Court for her first Wimbledon crown.
Victory caps a brilliant return to form for Kerber, who is now a three-time grand slam champion having gained revenge for her defeat to Williams in the 2016 final at the All England Club.
Kerber, only the second person after Williams’ sister Venus to beat the American in multiple slam finals, lifted the Australian and US Open titles two years ago en route to the top of the world rankings and is projected to move as high as fourth come Monday.
Williams will undoubtedly feel the sting of defeat, but the veteran can take great pride from her performance this fortnight, less than a year after she sustained life-threatening complications and was bedridden for six weeks following the birth of daughter Alexis Olympia.
Kerber was in the ascendancy early and broke at the first time of asking when Williams found the net after a lengthy rally.
The German was soaking up pressure impressively, but Williams briefly bared her teeth and levelled the set when Kerber went long from the baseline.
Kerber regained her composure as some textbook defence and pin-point striking brought up three more break points in game seven – the third of which was taken when Williams erred with a forehand.
Williams was on the ropes and lost the opening set when she rammed a backhand into the net to be broken again.
An even start to the second followed, but Williams was unable to build sustained pressure as Kerber continued to display sublime defensive skills.
The end was nigh for Williams when Kerber hit two thumping forehand winners in game six to break for a 4-2 lead.
To Williams’ credit, she made her opponent work for the win, but on this occasion history was just out of reach as Kerber celebrated becoming the first German to win Wimbledon since Steffi Graf won her seventh title in 1996.