Serena Williams vowed to use the pain of her shock Wimbledon final defeat against Angelique Kerber to fuel her bid for future Grand Slam glory.
Williams was hoping to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 major titles by winning her eighth Wimbledon crown on Saturday.
But instead, the 36-year-old produced an error-strewn display in a 6-3, 6-3 loss that ranked as her first Wimbledon final defeat since 2008.
While Serena was frustrated by the surprise setback, she took heart from her run to the final in just the fourth tournament of her comeback following daughter Olympia’s birth in September.
“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 entered Wimbledon just wanting to win some matches. It was super encouraging to know that I can compete and do well.”
Williams endured life-saving surgery after Olympia’s difficult delivery and serving as an inspiration to mothers all over the world had been part of the former world number one’s decision to return to tennis.
Her presence in the final of a Grand Slam in just her 14th match since that traumatic experience has convinced Serena she can catch Court and even break her record in the future.
“I didn’t know a couple of months ago how I would be able to come back. It was such a long way to see light at the end of the road,” she said.
“So I think these two weeks have really showed me that, okay, I can come out and be a contender to win Grand Slams.
“I’m already deciphering what I need to improve on, what I did wrong, why I did it wrong, that whole madness that goes on in my mind.
“I just feel like I’m taking the steps in the right direction. I took a giant step at Wimbledon. But my journey has just begun.
“This is literally just the beginning. It’s good to just continue that path.”
After failing to become the first mother to win Wimbledon since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980, Williams admitted she was powerless to prevent the inspired Kerber taking the title.
“To all the mums out there, I was playing for you, and I tried but Angelique played really well, she played out of her mind,” she said.
“She’s an incredible person, a really good friend, so I am really happy for her.”
Serena had been forced to wait to start the final while Novak Djokovic’s delayed men’s semi-final win over Rafael Nadal was completed on Centre Court.
It was two hours later than scheduled before the women’s final got underway, but Williams was adamant the decision to play the men’s match first wasn’t disrespectful and didn’t affect her performance.
“Honestly, I just feel like it was a necessary evil,” she said.
“Not knowing how this match would go, two hours, three hours, I don’t think they could put the men’s semi-final behind the women because they have to come back the next day.
“It didn’t have an impact on me. I’m not going to ever make an excuse.”
Undeterred by her defeat, Williams is already making plans for the US Open in August.
But before that she was ready to head home for some quality time with Olympia and husband Alexis Ohanian — and possibly a bed-time story with a happy ending.
“My priority is my baby now, you know. Just being with her, spending time with her. That’s totally my priorities,” Williams said.
“I will just go home and relax. If I make it home in time, I’ll hang out with Olympia.”
Asked if she would tell Olympia about her day, Serena said: “I think it would be a happy story. I’ll probably change the ending!”
Angelique Kerber became the first German woman to win Wimbledon for 22 years as the 11th seed shattered Serena Williams’ bid for Grand Slam history with a shock 6-3, 6-3 victory in Saturday’s final.
Kerber avenged her defeat against Williams in the 2016 Wimbledon title match, overwhelming the seven-time champion with a stunning 65-minute upset on Centre Court.
“I knew I had to play my best tennis against a champion like Serena,” Kerber said.
“It was my second chance to play in the final. I think I’m the next one after Steffi who won. That’s amazing.”
Williams had hoped to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles by winning her first major prize since becoming a mother in September.
The 36-year-old, who last won a Grand Slam at the 2017 Australian Open, went into the final as the title favourite, even though she was playing only the fourth tournament of her post-pregnancy comeback.
But instead, world number 10 Kerber sprang a huge surprise, making her Germany’s first female champion at the All England Club since Steffi Graf in 1996.
“It’s obviously disappointing but I am just getting started,” said an emotional Williams after losing in the Wimbledon final for the first time since 2008.
“For all you mums out there I was playing for you. I really tried.”
Graf helped Kerber get her game on track earlier in her career, so it was an especially sweet moment for the 30-year-old to follow in her footsteps at Wimbledon.
Kerber had endured a significant slump last year after winning her previous major titles at the Australian and US Opens in 2016.
But, back to her best on the grass at Wimbledon, she needed only 11 winners and one ace to deny an oddly nervous Serena, who contributed to her own downfall with a whopping 24 unforced errors, compared to only five from Kerber.
In the first Wimbledon final for 41 years to feature two women 30 or older, Serena was cheered on by her friend the Duchess of Sussex, golf legend Tiger Woods and Formula One ace Lewis Hamilton.
Left needing several life-saving operations to deal with the threat of blood clots after Olympia’s birth, Williams was unable to walk for six weeks and even now is still haunted by harrowing flashbacks to that period.
Winning Wimbledon with Olympia at the tournament with her was supposed to be the crowning glory of her return to the top.
But, foreshadowing the pain to come, Serena’s 30th Grand Slam final got off to a rocky start as she dropped her serve with four unforced errors in the opening game.
Play had started two hours late due to the conclusion of Novak Djokovic’s win over Rafael Nadal in the men’s semi-finals, and it was Serena who looked more affected by the delay.
She briefly hit back, breaking to love in the fourth game, but then produced another error-strewn effort, including two double faults, to gift a 4-3 lead to Kerber.
Although Williams was on a 20-match winning run at Wimbledon and had lost only one set en route to the final, she was completely out of sorts, spraying wild ground-strokes wide time and again.
Kerber, cleverly moving Serena into awkward positions, took full advantage, winning four games in a row to wrap up the set.
The 11th seed knew what it took to beat Serena in a Grand Slam showpiece after winning their 2016 Australian Open final.
She kept nagging away at Serena and induced more miscues from the American in the sixth game of the second set.
On break point, the left-hander landed the knockout blow with a fierce forehand winner down the line that left Williams grasping in vain to reach it.
When Williams made another mistake to lose the next game, she gestured to her coaching team with a look of despair.
Her agony only increased with a woeful volley that flew long to put Kerber within two points of the title.
Moments later, Serena’s misery was complete as a tame return left Kerber wiping away tears of joy.
Serena Williams booked a Wimbledon final rematch against Angelique Kerber as the seven-time champion marched into her 10th All England Club title match with a 6-2, 6-4 rout of Julia Goerges on Thursday.
On 20-match winning streak at Wimbledon, Serena is the third oldest female Grand Slam finalist in the Open era at 36 years and 291 days.
She will face German world number 10 Kerber on Saturday in a repeat of the 2016 showpiece won by Williams.
Williams has often blasted her rivals off Centre Court with ferocious power-hitting, but German 13th seed Goerges was sent packing with a more subtle 70-minute display featuring just 16 winners and five aces.
In only her fourth tournament since the birth of her daughter Olympia in September, the 23-time Grand Slam champion is closing in on her first major title as a mother.
“It’s crazy. I don’t even know how to feel. I didn’t expect to do this well in my fourth tournament back,” Williams said.
“I had a really tough pregnancy delivery. I had to have multiple surgeries and almost didn’t make it to be honest.
“I’m just enjoying every moment of this. This was not inevitable for me.”
The American star will have the history in her sights against Kerber as she tries to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams singles titles.
An eighth Wimbledon title would also move her past Steffi Graf into second place on the list of female Wimbledon champions, behind nine-time winner Martina Navratilova.
Serena will go into her 30th Grand Slam final — her first since winning the 2017 Australian Open — holding a 6-2 lead in her head to head record against Kerber.
“She is clearly a really good grass-court player. But whatever happens, it’s a great moment for me and incredible motivation to keep going for the rest of my career,” Serena added.
After all the controversy about the decision to seed Williams 25th at Wimbledon despite her position at 181 in the WTA rankings, she has proved the tournament’s officials were actually too conservative.
Williams, who missed Wimbledon last year due to her pregnancy, won the grass-court Grand Slam on her previous two visits in 2015 and 2016.
Twenty years after making her Wimbledon debut as a precocious teenager and 16 years since her first title at the All England Club, Serena remains the pre-eminent force in the women’s game.
In a testament to her remarkable longevity, the former world number one has now made at least one Grand Slam final for the last 12 years.
Serena had lost only one of her 10 previous Wimbledon semi-finals and the 11th followed a familiar script.
When a panicked Goerges error wrapped up the first set, Serena’s dominance was so total that the American, whose emotions are usually on full display, barely acknowledged the moment.
By the time a Goerges drop-shot drifted into net to present Serena with the decisive break in the sixth game of the second set, the contest had already been sapped of any drama and moments later the title favourite was waving to the crowd in celebration.
Earlier, Kerber raced into her second Wimbledon final and fourth Grand Slam showpiece as the German crushed former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-3 in 67 minutes.
The 30-year-old hit only 10 winners but that was all it took to get the job done as Latvian 12th seed Ostapenko shot herself in the foot with 36 unforced errors.
“I was just trying to move good and take my chances. I’m so excited,” Kerber said.
“It’s such a great feeling to be back in the final. Playing on Centre Court is always great.”
Referencing her dismal form last year, Kerber added: “2017 is over and I’m really happy about that. We are in 2018!
“I’m really happy and proud to be in a Grand Slam final. These are the matches I was working for since I was a kid.”
It will be Kerber’s first Grand Slam final since she won the second of her two major titles at the 2016 US Open.
Kerber, who also won the Australian Open in 2016, is bidding to become the first German woman to win Wimbledon since Graf in 1996.
Former world number one Angelique Kerber won a war of attrition with second seed Karolina Pliskova on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Pan Pacific Open.
The German, seeded seventh and a former Tokyo finalist, came through 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 as she repelled some brutal hitting from her Czech opponent in a contest of real quality.
Pliskova, who herself briefly held the women’s top ranking over the summer, produced moments of brilliance at the net but ultimately crumbled under relentless pressure from Kerber.
One of her eight double-faults gifted Kerber the first-set tiebreak 7-5 before Pliskova unravelled again at the business end of the second set.
Kerber turned the screw in the 12th game, forcing Pliskova to save four match points before delivering the coup de grace with a vicious, dipping backhand that landed on the Czech’s shoelaces, giving her no chance.
The 29-year-old Kerber, who has slipped back to 14th in the world since winning last year’s Australian and US Open titles, faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the last four.
The Russian advanced by overcoming another Czech, Barbora Strycova, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.
Top seed Garbine Muguruza, playing in her first tournament since reaching the top of the women’s world rankings, faces France’s Caroline Garcia in the third quarter-final.
Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki takes on Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova in the late match.
World number one, Angelique Kerber has suffered a pre-Wimbledon injury scare, pulling out of this week’s Aegon Classic at Edgbaston due to a recurrence of a hamstring problem.
The German is also unsure whether she will be able to play at Eastbourne next week due to problems with the left hamstring strain which forced her to retire during her third-round match in Madrid.
Kerber had a disappointing clay court season and went out in the first round at the French Open. She said the injury flared up again when she returned to the courts last week.
Kerber is the latest big name to have pulled out of the Aegon Classic following Simona Halep’s withdrawal with an ankle complaint.
Kerber is chasing an elusive first title this year after failing to get past the third round in her last five tournaments.
The 29-year-old has struggled to impose herself in recent months and her only appearance in a final this year was at the Abierto GNP Seguros competition at Monterrey in April, where she lost to Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The Eastbourne International tournament begins on June 25 with Wimbledon getting under way a week later.
World number one Serena Williams beat German fourth seed Angelique Kerber to win a seventh Wimbledon and 22nd Grand Slam title.
The American, 34, coped with a gusty wind on Centre Court to win 7-5 6-3 and equal Steffi Graf’s Open era record of major titles.
Kerber had beaten Williams in the Australian Open final in January but could not produce another shock.
Fourteen years since she first won Wimbledon, Williams claimed the title for a seventh time after dropping just one set all tournament.
The world number one banished memories of last year, when she fell two matches short of a historic calendar Grand Slam, and of losing in the Australian and French Open finals this year.
“It’s been incredibly difficult not to think about it,” she said of finally winning number 22.
“It makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard I worked hard for it.
“This court definitely feels like home, I have a match later today in the doubles, so I’ll be back out.”
Williams moves alongside German great, Steffi Graf, in the all-time list of Grand Slam singles champions, and just two behind overall leader Margaret Court, the Australian, who won 13 of her 24 major titles before tennis turned professional in 1968.
Andy Murray progressed to the second round of the US Open with victory over Robin Haase in four sets despite struggling with a bout of cramp.
Murray seeded eighth, won 6-3 7-6 (8-6) 1-6 7-5 in three hours and eight minutes inside a sweltering Louis Armstrong Stadium.
He made his way through the first two sets in comfortable fashion but began to feel the strain when Haase won nine straight games in the third and fourth sets.
Haase, the world number 70, had looked capable of handing the Scot his first opening-round defeat at a Grand Slam since 2008 when he won nine straight games.
But despite cramping, and choosing not to sit down at the changeovers, Murray twice recovered from a break down in a wildly unpredictable fourth set that saw both men ailing in the New York heat.
“I started cramping at the beginning of the third set, at the front of my quad and then in my forearm,” said Murray.
“It was not particularly comfortable and I just tried to hang around as long as possible and managed to get through.
“I was in a good position at 2-0 up but I didn’t know whether to go for it at the beginning of the third set or conserve energy and go for it in the fourth.
“It wasn’t easy for Robin either.”
Murray had come back from two sets down to beat Haase at Flushing Meadows in 2011, a year after he had lost to Stan Wawrinka on the same court in what was his last Grand-Slam defeat before the quarter-final stage.
The Scot goes on to face German qualifier, Matthias Bachinger, who beat Radek Stepanek 6-3 6-2 6-2.
In the women singles, second seed, Simona Halep, had to come back from a set down to defeat Danielle Collins 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 6-2 in the first round of the US Open.
Collins threatened to cause a major upset at Arthur Ashe Stadium when she dominated the opening-set tie-break against the French Open finalist.
But Halep, who served seven double faults, managed to turn things around and win the next two sets comfortably to set up a second-round meeting with Jana Cepelova, who defeated Maria Teresa Torro Flor 2-6 7-5 6-1.
Sixth seed, Angelique Kerber, was also pushed to three sets before coming through to clinch a 6-2 3-6 7-5 win against Ksenia Pervak, who may have closed out the upset if not for her 56 unforced errors.
Agnieszka Radwanska, who is seeded 4th had a much easier route through to round two as she thrashed Sharon Fichman 6-1 6-0 in just 47 minutes.
Top seeds Novak Djokovic and seven times champion Roger Federer had to fight back to win their respective games to claim their place in the Wimbledon semi-finals.
Djokovic was trailing two-sets-to-one against 26th-seeded Marin Cilic before turning things around for a 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-2 decision on the No. 1 Court.
The Serb snuck past Cilic in 3 hours, 38 minutes with the help of a seven service breaks and six double faults by his Croatian counterpart.
He will meet Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who beat defending champion Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 in the semi final.
Federer, on the other hand lost the opening set of his quarter-final game to Australian Open champion and compatriot, Stanilas Wawrinka before coming through 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-4 on Centre Court.
This will be the ninth Wimbledon semi finals of the the 17 – time grand slam winner and his 35th career major semis.
Federer’s next opponent will be 6-foot-5 eighth-seeded Canadian slugger, Milos Raonic,who ended world number 144 and 19-year-old Australian, Nick Kyrgios giant-killing act with a brutal 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) win
Raonic advanced with a resounding ace on his fourth match point after 2 hours, 22 minutes of big-hitting tennis.
In the women’s category, 3rd seed, Simona Halep will meet Eugenie Bouchard in the Wimbledon semi-finals after both completed straight-sets quarter-final victories.
Halep, who is the highest seed left in the draw, defeated 2013 finalist Sabine Lisicki 6-4 6-0 while Bouchard,who is the 13th seed from Canada, reached her third Grand Slam semi-final of the year with a 6-3 6-4 win over German, Angelique Kerber.
Czech pair, Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova will meet in the other semi- final match.