Serena Williams has matched Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles by successfully retaining her Wimbledon crown on Saturday, 9 July. The best player of her generation and beaten French Open finalist is now just two shy of Margaret Court's all-time mark after sealing a seventh triumph at SW19 with an impressive 7-5, 6-3 victory over Angelique Kerber that owed much to her debilitating serve.
Entering only her second grand slam final, Kerber was seeking to become the first German singles winner of Wimbledon since Graf in 1996. However, she was unable to follow up her shock defeat of Williams at the Australian Open in January.
The second game of the match was a real war of attrition, with Kerber somewhat fortunate to save three break points. Williams was surprisingly taken to deuce twice in succession, but on both occasions was able to escape without the threat of being broken by utilising her devastating first serve to tremendous effect.
She wrapped up the first set by forcing consecutive errors from her opponent, who could only rescue one of two break opportunities.
Kerber, competing admirably with her groundstrokes, engineered her first break point on the Williams serve at 3-3 in the second set. However, two more successive aces averted the danger and left the German exasperated as to how to at least partially stem the damage caused by such a formidable weapon.
A frustrated and weary Kerber then showed her tiredness after an exciting close-range rally and a huge Williams return to give up a crucial break point with a wide forehand. The reigning world number one, denied a first calendar grand slam in 2015 by a surprise loss to Roberta Vinci in the semi-finals of the US Open, wrapped up a dominant win by holding to love. She sealed the final point with an overhand volley at the net before collapsing backwards to the grass in recognition of a truly superb achievement.
"It's such a great feeling to be out here," she told the BBC after the trophy presentation. "First thank you to God Jehovah, I couldn't have done it without him, and my family and whole team – thank you so much. It's just been great. Angelique – I love playing her, she brings out great tennis in me and off court she's a wonderful person to be around."
On equalling Graf's record, she added: "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. This court definitely feels like home, I have a match later today in the doubles, so I'll be back out. I don't know what else to say, I'm so excited."