Tennis

Kerber stuns Williams and is on top of the world

German pulls off one of the great upsets to win her first Major

A tearful Angelique Kerber stunned an errant Serena Williams to win the Australian Open yesterday and thwart the American top seed's bid to equal Steffi Graf's Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles.

In a huge upset, the seventh seed toppled the 34-year-old 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to win her maiden Major title and become the first German Grand Slam champion since Graf at the 1999 French Open.

Williams, the world No. 1 and defending champion, had won all six previous Melbourne Park finals she had played and had also triumphed in her last eight Grand Slam deciders.

But Kerber, inspired by a good luck message from Graf, knew all the pressure was on her opponent and she mercilessly exploited her weaknesses in a thriller at Rod Laver Arena.

"My whole life I was working really hard and now I'm here and I can say I'm a Grand Slam champion, so it sounds really crazy," she said, choking back tears.

"The best two weeks of my life and career. I had goose bumps here on the centre court when I was playing."

Kerber also spared a thought for the vanquished champion.

INSPIRATION

"You are really an inspiration for so many people, so many young tennis players," Kerber said.

"You are a great champion, you are an unbelievably great person, so congrats for everything you did already."

The left-handed German, whose win will see her move up from world No. 6 to No. 2, has had an emphasis on consistency in Melbourne, patiently building control of the point as rallies develop.

It worked well for the 28-year-old, who had never beaten a world No. 1 before, dropping just one set en route to the final, in the opening round to Miskai Doi where she saved a match-point.

Williams had been in imperious form all tournament, but too many errors cost her dearly against an opponent she had beaten five times before and lost only once.

Kerber's first Grand Slam final ended happily for her, after she was nearly knocked out in the first round.

"It's been such an up-and-down two weeks. I was match-point down in the first round and had one foot in the plane to Germany," she said.

"Now I have beaten Serena and won the championship. I have so many emotions, so many thoughts, but all of them good ones.

"My dream came true tonight.

"I think sometimes I am really not easy but I have the best family and the best team in the world...

"To all of you guys, all of my fans around the world, thank you." 
- Wire Services.

WHAT THEY SAY

Billie Jean King:

Congrats, @AngeliqueKerber. You are persistence and determination, personified. Soak up this moment. You've earned it!

Martina Navratilova:

I said before the match Kerber would have to play the match of her life to win - and she did. Wow - congrats! And Serena - what a gracious champion!"

Novak Djokovic:

What a final girls @serenawilliams & @AngeliqueKerber Great sportsmanship! Well done to both. Congrats to Angelique for her 1st GS

Germany captain and Man United star Bastian Schweinsteiger:

Yeeees! Congratulations on an historic win @AngeliqueKerber Fantastic gesture after match point and such kind words = a great champion, @serenawilliams!

Davis Cup teammate 
Andrea Petkovic:

"Angelique. You're crazy. I want to marry you. COOOOONNGRATULAAAAATIONS!".

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee:

"Many congratulations! It was time. Steffi Graf's era was a good few years ago."

German Formula 1 driver 
Nico Rosberg:

Mega! Congratulations!

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