July 9, 2016 5:24:39 pm
The women’s final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber isn’t just a chance for the American to exact revenge over the German for her Australian Open final loss but it is an opportunity for both players at history.
Serena has been trying to match Graf’s 22 Grand Slams record but has been falling narrowly short. At the US Open last year, it was Roberta Vinci who stung a massive surprise in the semi-final, Kerber in Melbourne this past year and then Garbine Muguruza at the French Open final. It is clear that Serena has this record first and foremost in her priority list while putting other tournaments on the back burner at 34-years-old.
Kerber called on Graf last March when her confidence dipped. And the legendary German came to the younger ones aid. Even at the Australian Open, amongst the congratulatory messages for Kerber was one from Steffi. And then Kerber surprised everyone by beating Serena to lift the title. Now, at Wimbledon, Kerber would have once again turned to Graf for inspiration. For Kerber is chasing the first Grand Slam for a German at SW19 since Graf won here in 1996 – the last of her seven titles in London.
If Kerber does manage to beat Serena – an incredible achievement – in its own, she would become the first player – other than Serena – to win two Grand Slams in a year since Justine Henin won French Open and US Open in 2007.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 9, 2016
The Graf question has been inevitable and over the past Slams, Serena has maintained that it does weigh in her mind. But at Wimbledon, Serena has refused to talk about it, saying, “I’m not talking about that anymore. Sorry.”
For Kerber, though, there’s no such pressure and she looks forward to the test on Centre Court. “She was always an idol for me, I have watched a lot of her matches, on YouTube sometimes. I met her a few times — the last time she told me, just believe in yourself. I will try to be the next one to win here after Steffi,” she had said after beating Venus Williams in straight sets in the semi-final.
Kerber’s game is the perfect opponent to beat Serena’s. Kerber has the ability to counter-punch and neutralises the big hitting from the back of the court. With strong control on her two-handed backhand, even on a fiercely hit Serena groundstroke, Kerber has it in her to once again beat Serena – as she did in the heat of Melbourne.
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But if Serena can bring on her A-game, like she did in the demolition of Elena Vesnina – there’s no chance for Kerber to even get the ball back – even with her incredible retrieval skills.
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