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First World title for "Golden Girls"

Ross Dunbar
August 5, 2017

Victorious against the host nation in Rio de Janeiro almost a year ago, the German duo have followed up Olympic success with dominance in the World Championships. It's Germany's first gold medal win at the worlds.

Österreich Ludwig/Walkenhorst jetzt auch Weltmeisterinnen: 2:1 gegen US-Team
Image: picture alliance/APA/picturedesk/H. Neubauer

Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst pulled through in a captivating World Championship final in Vienna with a 2-1 (19-21, 21-13, 15-9) win over the highly-fancied American double April Ross and Lauren Fendrick.

Germany's "Golden Girls" from the Olympic Games little over a year ago have lost just one game out of 15 in Austria, finally recapturing their gold medal-winning form from Rio.

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The proficient partnership has been broken up for much of the year since the win in Rio de Janeiro. Ludwig suffered a shoulder injury and required surgery at the beginning of the year with Julia Grossner stepping up as the successor.

Ludwig and Walkenhorst only took to the court together in May at the Smart Super Cup in Münster, the prelude to the World Tour which took the Germans back to South America.

Strong and robust recovery

Ludwig and Walkenhorst battled from a game down after losing 19-21 to the 35-year-old double from the United States, which included Ross, who secured bronze at the Rio Games last year.

However, Germany's pair were unperturbed and showed impressive resilience to come flying back with a 21-13 win in the second set. With the wind in their sails, and the help of a partisan 10,000 fans in the Austrian capital, Ludwig and Walkenhorst remained in command for the third and decisive game.

"This year was so bad that we did not expect to get that far," admitted 31-year-old Walkenhorst, the elder of the duo. "Somehow we made it to the end, and now we are Olympic and World Champions. It was very hard in the last months. I didn't believe we could do it."

Ludwig, meanwhile, paid tribute to the team in the background, which includes coach Jürgen Wagner, psychologist Anett Szigeti and physio Jochen Dirksmeyer. "Without our team that would not have been possible," said Ludwig: "They did an incredible job and always showed us the vision."