This return to wimbledon is very special for angelique kerber. When she stepped onto the tradition-steeped tennis court for the first time after her triumph a year ago and saw a picture of herself as last year’s winner, all the memories resurfaced.
"It was definitely beautiful emotions," the 31-year-old from keel said about her first impressions. With a badge on her t-shirt that now marks her as a member of the all england lawn tennis and croquet club, the world number five spoke with a smile but also with confidence about the upcoming title defense: "i know how to play on grass. It’s a bit different from playing on sand, where i have no idea how to play on it. I was able to absorb this feeling."
With the experience of 2018 and in the aubergewohnlichen wimbledon flair she wants to defy the difficult draw after the changeable past months and pave a way to the title again. "You feel a completely different energy here," said the co-favorite: "i’m trying to keep playing the way i played last year."
After losing the final match at eastbourne, her thoughts quickly turned to the grand slam tournament starting in the new week. Even the fact that she was largely without a chance in the 1:6, 4:6 against a "perfectly" playing world number three karolina pliskova does not dampen her confidence.
Kerber was unusually open about her ambitions: "i want to defend my title. That’s my rough goal," she said. Only five female players have achieved this in the history of professional tennis since 1968. But the former long-time national coach barbara rittner believes she can do it: "the moment I saw her first points on grass in majorca, I thought she would defend the title at wimbledon," the 46-year-old told the newspaper bild am sonntag.
On monday, kerber – unlike alexander zverev (2. Match after 14.00 a.M. CEST/sky) as the main german hopeful in the men’s singles – still has a day of rest. As is tradition, the defending champion will have the honor of playing the first match on center court on tuesday.
For the opening match against tatjana maria from swabia, kerber will return to the world’s most famous court in her sport, which is associated with german tennis success like no other. On 14. July 2018 kerber became the first german wimbledon champion since steffi graf in 1996. She has fond memories of converting match point against serena williams as well as holding the trophy in her hands. The victory dance in the red dress with men’s champion novak djokovic also remains unforgotten.
By reaching the semifinals in mallorca and the final in eastbourne, kerber has tuned up for the grand slam tournament. The failed sand court season with an infection, a bone blister and the first round exit at the french open as a low point seems to be forgotten. "Kerber and rasen, it’s such a unity. Her left-handed serve brings more free points," said rittner, the current german head of women’s tennis: "for me, she is the perfect grass court player."
Unlike in 2017, when she was eliminated in the eighth finals of the australian open and in the first round of the us open, kerber’s role as defending champion should not be an obstacle now. In women’s tennis, as has often been the case recently, no clear favorite can be identified.
A reliable forecast, however, on kerber’s performance seems to be ours. The season was too volatile. The draw seems too difficult with possible opponents like last year’s final opponent serena williams in the eighth final and french open winner ashleigh barty in the quarter final.
The first step should be kerber’s duel with the unpleasantly playing world number 65. Maria succeeds. "I don’t expect a simple match. It’s always a bit more difficult against a german," admitted the left-hander. The fond memories of the summer of 2018 can still be so vivid.