It seems that the theme this Wimbledon is ‘Comebacks’ and Angelique Kerber’s is no less impressive than Novak Djokovic’s.
After enjoying a dream 2016 that saw her rise to No. 1 in the world and win two Grand Slams, Kerber struggled in 2017, losing in the first round in two of the four majors and dropping outside of the top-20.
Her determination to wipe that year from her memory and undergo a system reboot in 2018 resulted in her capturing a first Wimbledon trophy on Saturday at the All England Club.
So many people doubted her after suffering through last year but Kerber, aided by her new coach Wim Fissette who joined her team at the end of 2017, silenced all those sceptics.
“I have much more experience than two years ago because the last two years gave me so much experience, good and bad things. Without 2017 I wouldn’t be here because I learnt so much about myself, as a person, and as a tennis player,” said the 30-year-old Kerber following her straight-sets win over Serena Williams in the final on Saturday.
Kerber, the first German woman since Steffi Graf in 1996 to win Wimbledon, was overwhelmed by all the attention and the aftermath of her stunning 2016.
But when she partnered with Belgian coach Fissette end of last season, he knew exactly what they should do to get back on track.
“I didn’t feel it was hard because when we started working she really had a very hard desire to go back to the top of women’s tennis and she was also willing to work very hard for that,” said Fissette.
“On the first day I remember, I showed her a video, a compilation of different matches where I showed how I wanted her to play in 2018 and we agreed on that. So our plan started from there.
“We knew what to work on, she knew she had to be physically at her best, not just for running but also to have the power to use her legs to get more quality in her shots. Australian Open in January was already fantastic and was the perfect start of a good year.”
Kerber had a brilliant Australian summer, going undefeated at the unofficial team event, the Hopman Cup, then reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
Six months later, she is back in the winners’ circle and up to No. 4 in the world rankings.
She hopes to do things differently this time around, to make sure she doesn’t suffer another dip.
“I think I’ll give a little bit more time for myself because after 2016 I had not really a lot of time to take a break and realise what I achieved,” said Kerber.
“I was enjoying it [when I got to No. 1] but I wasn’t expecting so many things because when you reach the top you have no idea what you have to deal with in this moment. What I’ve learnt from that time, is that you have to say sometimes ‘no’ not doing everything and taking time for yourself.
Not doing every single day or doing some stuff, you have to give two, three days for yourself. When you do this I think you can enjoy it more. I was enjoying it but not to the end because At some point it was completely too much for me. of course coming back to this moment and situation looking forward, I’ll deal with it a bit differently.”
Sat at the centre of a small groups of journalists in the second interview room at the All England Club, a smiling Kerber had the members’ pin attached to her shirt, which places her among an elite group of players to have triumphed at Wimbledon.
“It means a lot to me, knowing I’m a member here, that’s something huge, I can say that’s forever. Even in 30 years I can come here and watch the tennis,” said Kerber.
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