No 22: Serena equals Steffi Graf’s Open era record with seventh Wimbledon crown

World No 1 too strong for Germany’s Angelique Kerber, winning 7-5, 6-3 and now has her sights set on reaching Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 grand slam titles

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 July, 2016, 11:27pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 July, 2016, 11:59pm

Serena Williams powered to her seventh Wimbledon crown as the world number one finally claimed a record-equalling 22nd major title with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Angelique Kerber in Saturday’s final.

Williams had been stuck on 21 grand slams since winning last year’s Wimbledon, but the American star ended that frustrating barren spell to retain the title and draw level with Steffi Graf’s Open era record.

Williams was pushed hard by Kerber in a high-quality clash lasting 81 minutes on Centre Court, but the German fourth seed eventually crumbled under a barrage of 39 winners and 13 aces from the defending champion.

“It’s a great feeling to be here. Angelique brings out great tennis in me,” said Williams.

“Number 22 is awesome. Centre Court feels like home.”

“It’s been incredibly difficult not to think about it. It makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard I worked hard for it.”

Kerber said the American was a great champion.

“Serena you deserve it, you are a great champion and great person. We played a great match,” said Kerber.

“It’s an honour to play on Centre Court and a great feeling.”

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Having avenged her shock loss against Kerber in the Australian Open final in January, Williams was wreathed in smiles as she paraded the Venus Rosewater Dish around Centre Court after collecting a cheque for £2 million (HK$20 million).

But the far more significant reward is the knowledge she has re-established her supremacy at a time when doubters were beginning to question the 34-year-old’s hunger for more silverware after consecutive Slam final defeats this year.

In a testament to her remarkable longevity as the sport’s pre-eminent force, Williams is once again Wimbledon’s queen 14 years after her first success at the All England Club.

Equalling Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 grand slam titles will be her next goal.

The 71st singles title of Williams’ astonishing career also moved her within two of Martina Navratilova’s all-time record of nine Wimbledon triumphs.

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Showing signs of cracking under the pressure of her bid for tennis immortality, Williams had cut a grumpy figure for much of the tournament, earning a fine for racquet smashing and threatening to sue Wimbledon officials if she was injured on a wet court.

But a serene focus came over Williams with the trophy in sight and she delivered a 48-minute masterclass against Elena Vesnina in the quickest semi-final in Wimbledon history.

With pop royalty Beyonce and Jay-Z among Williams’ entourage in the players’ box, Williams finally hit the right notes after so many recent disappointments.

Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, says she enjoys her major triumphs for little more than five minutes before switching her attention to the next target.

But judging by the joyous way Williams slumped flat on her back on Centre Court when Kerber miscued on match point, the sweet taste of this historic success might linger a little longer.