Australian Open: Angelique Kerber is queen of Melbourne
Melbourne: A tearful Angelique Kerber stunned an errant Serena Williams to win the Australian Open on Saturday and thwart the American top seed’s bid to equal Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles.
Serena Williams reacts after her defeat to Angelique Kerber (below) at Melbourne Park on Saturday. Pics/Getty Images
In a huge upset, the seventh seed toppled the 34-year-old 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to win her maiden major title and become the first German Grand Slam champion since Graf at the 1999 French Open.
Williams, the World No 1 and defending champion, had won all six previous Melbourne Park finals she had played and had also triumphed in her last eight Grand Slam deciders. But Kerber, inspired by a good luck message from Graf, knew all the pressure was on her opponent and she mercilessly exploited her weaknesses in a thriller at Rod Laver Arena.
"My whole life I was working really hard and now I’m here and I can say I’m a Grand Slam champion, so it sounds really crazy," she said, choking back tears. "The best two weeks of my life and career. I had goose bumps here on the centre court when I was playing."
The left-handed German, whose win will see her move up from World No 6 to 2, has had an emphasis on consistency in Melbourne, patiently building control of the point as rallies develop. It worked well with the 28-year-old, who had never beaten a World No 1 before, dropping just one set en route to the final, in the opening round to Miskai Doi when she saved a match point.
Williams had been in imperious form, but too many errors cost her dearly against an opponent she had beaten five times before and lost only once.