Wimbledon 2018: Angelique Kerber seeking redemption against Serena Williams | More sports | DW | 13.07.2018
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Wimbledon 2018: Angelique Kerber seeking redemption against Serena Williams

Two years ago, Serena Williams beat Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon final. Since that match, Williams has become a mother and Kerber has had to cope with a severe loss of form. But on Saturday, they meet again.

"I think it is a completely new match," said Angelique Kerber after setting up a repeat of Wimbledon's 2016 final. "I know that I have to play my best tennis to beat her, especially on the grass, on Centre Court, where she [Serena Williams] has won so many titles."

Seven titles to be exact, and 23 Grand Slam wins in all. There's an argument to be made that victory on Saturday would surpass them all, as it comes less than a year after Williams gave birth to her first daughter. Should Williams win, she'll be the first mother to win Wimbledon since 1980 and draw level with Australian Margaret Court, who holds the record for most major wins with 24.

Though Kerber lost to the American two years ago on the grass, she did inflict one of only six Grand Slam final losses that Williams has suffered a few months earlier at the Australian Open. That win in Melbourne marked the start of a stellar year for Kerber, who also won the US Open and Olympic silver.

Williams took the next Australian crown while pregnant after Kerber tamely surrendered her title in the fourth round, a result that started a spiral of poor performances that also saw the German player lose in the first round of her US Open defense and eventually forced her to change her coach.

"In 2017 there were a few ups and downs," said the 30-year-old from Kiel, who finished last year out of the top 10 for the first time since 2012. "To come back this year, I think I learned so many things about myself, about who I am and what is really important in life."

While last year was tricky professionally for Kerber, life was tougher for Williams away from the court. The 36-year-old suffered health complications that included blood clots and had multiple operations which she has said put her life at risk.

"I almost didn't make it, to be honest," Williams said shortly after completing her 6-2, 6-4 semifinal victory over 13th-seeded German player Julia Görges on Thursday, denying German fans an all-German final.

Despite their pedigree, both women were seeded outside the top 10. But Williams in particular has looked in irresistible form, extending her run of consecutive wins at Wimbledon to 20 and dropping just a single set along the way.

Under new coach Wim Fissette, Kerber has quickly got somewhere close to her best form. She started the year well, winning the Sydney Open before spurning a pair of match points to exit the Australian Open in the semifinal to Simone Halep, who also knocked her out of the French Open.

Kerber too, has dropped just a single set on her path to the showpiece final but Williams' experience and trophy cabinet makes her the favorite in the eyes of many, though not neccessarily the player herself.

"To hear people say, 'Oh, she's the favourite' ... well, over the last 16 months, I've played four tournaments and was carrying another human half that time. So it's interesting," Williams said.

Both players seem happy to have made it this far after difficult years, but that's unlikely to be enough for either come Saturday afternoon.

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