2017 slump was key to Wimbledon title, says Angelique Kerber

Kerber, 30, produced a superb display to beat Serena Williams 6-3, 6-3 and become the first German since Steffi Graf in 1996 to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish on Centre Court

epaselect epa06888838 Angelique Kerber of Germany lifts the Championship Trophy after winning the women's final against Serena Williams of the US at the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 14 July 2018  EPA/NEIL HALL EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO COMMERCIAL SALES
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Former world No 1 Angelique Kerber said her Wimbledon triumph on Saturday would not have been possible without experiencing the lows of last year's slide down the rankings.

Kerber, 30, produced a superb display to beat Serena Williams 6-3, 6-3 and become the first German since Steffi Graf in 1996 to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish on Centre Court.

Kerber also beat Williams in the 2016 Australian Open final and is the only player, apart from Serena's older sister Venus, to beat her twice in a grand slam final.

She also won the US Open in 2016 and lost to Serena in the Wimbledon final, rising to No 1 in the WTA rankings.

The left-hander struggled to deal with the added focus last year, though, when she failed to win a title and slid from No 1 to 21 in the rankings.

It was a time for soul-searching but the experience made her stronger and she has rebounded in style, reaching the Australian Open final and the quarter-finals at Roland Garros.

"I think without 2017 I couldn't win this tournament," Kerber, who will rise back to world No 4, told reporters.

"I think I learned a lot from last year, with all the expectation, all the things I go through. I learned so many things about myself.

"I also needed to find the motivation after 2016, which was amazing. To make again such a year is impossible. But I just tried to improve my game, not think too much about the results."

Bremen-born Kerber said her first experiences of Wimbledon were watching seven-time champion Graf.

Their games are not too similar.

Attacking right-hander Graf relied on her big forehand and serve while left-hander Kerber is more of a counter-puncher, as she displayed to great effect on Saturday when dealing with the inevitable Williams barrage.


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Angelique Kerber plays her 'best tennis' to beat Serena Williams and win Wimbledon title


"She was playing very different to me, a lot of slice and playing strong off the forehand and having a good serve," Kerber told reporters. "But the thing I took from her was her movement and that she hit a lot of balls back, but also with intent.

"She was going out there having her mind only on the court and playing every single match her best tennis."

Graf's 22 grand slam titles spanned 12 years.

While Kerber's rise has come later in her career she says she is now better equipped to cope with being one of the players everyone wants to beat.

"When you've reached the top players have nothing to lose when they play against you," she said. "I think that was part of what I had to learn after 2016, a process I had to go through."