The 34-year-old American had been seeking her seventh Melbourne Park
title and 22nd overall, which would have moved her into a tie with
Graf for the most grand slam singles titles in the Open era.
The seventh seeded Kerber, however, was not overawed by the occasion
of her first grand slam final, breaking twice in the first set as
Williams made 23 unforced errors.
Williams cut down on the errors to send it into a third, which
Kerber, who had the opportunity to serve it out while leading 5-3
only for the American to battle back, clinched when Williams hit a
volley long in the next game.
"When I played here the first round I was match point down and
playing with one leg on the plane to Germany," an emotional Kerber
said in a courtside interview.
"I took my second chance to play the final against Serena. To win it
is my dream come true.
"Now I can say I'm a grand slam champion and it sounds really
The opening salvo had looked ominous as Williams raced through the
first game to love and then put pressure on the German, who was down
15-30 after a double fault but managed to suppress any demons she
may have had and held on.
The 28-year-old German then played superb defensive tennis against
the powerful Williams, scrambling to force her to play an extra shot
that ultimately contributed to 23 unforced errors from the American
in the first set.
Those errors and a lack of timing on several potential winners
enabled the German to break again in the seventh game and then seal
the first set in 39 minutes when Williams made another unforced
[to top of second column]
The pair held serve in the opening two games of the second set
before Williams began to get her timing back and made less errors as
she raced out to a 4-1 lead, though the concerned look she shot her
supporters in the players' box suggested she had been battling to
work the German out.
Williams sent the match into a decider when Kerber hit an easy
forehand into the net to clinch the second set.
Both players suffered early breaks in the third set but the
championship appeared to have tipped in the German's favor in a
marathon sixth game when she finally converted her fifth break point
to take a 4-2 lead.
She extended that to 5-2 and was serving for the title at 5-3 before
Williams fought back, though the inspired German was able to clinch
her first grand slam and then collapse onto the court in jubilation.
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)
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