For Angelique Kerber, it was her first appearance in a major tennis tournament and the result was momentous.
The German tennis player slayed one of the greats in women’s singles, world #1 Serena Williams, and nabbed the 2016 Australian Open women’s singles title in the process. Many thought beating the American legend was a futile endeavour for the world #7, but Kerber did it in a stride, posting a shocking 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory. Tennis fans described the win as one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport.
But Kerber almost lost her shot at the title and her date with destiny. In her very first match in the tournament, Kerber was in danger of losing early and flying home to Germany. In an emotionally charged speech, Kerber recalled a moment in her first match against Japanese qualifier Misaki Doi, Fox Sports reports.
“When I played here in the first round, I was match point down, so I was actually with one leg in the plane to Germany.”
Angelique Kerber managed to save a matchpoint in that game, which now many see as a critical moment in her Australian Open stint, according to NDTV Sports.
“I took my chance to be here in the final and play Serena,” Kerber said while holding back her tears. “To win it, it’s my dream come true tonight.”
Despite losing a chance to make history, Williams was all praises about Kerber. In a report by ABC, the American admitted that she struggled reading Kerber’s game and selected her shots poorly.
“I think I kept picking the wrong shots coming into it,” Williams said. “But, honestly, it’s something to learn from [Angelique Kerber], just to try to get better.”
Williams is on the brink of tying Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22 major titles. Observers believed that the pressure of equalling Graf’s milestone got to Williams’ nerves and cost her the win. However, Williams said she wasn’t thinking about the record.