A decade ago, 17-year-old Maria Sharapova won the first of her five major tennis titles here at Wimbledon. On Tuesday, her hopes for the ultimate 10-year-anniversary present went awry.
Sharapova, seeded fifth, ran into a determined German named Angelique Kerber, seeded ninth, who outlasted her in a 2-hour, 37-minute drama play on Center Court.
Kerber won, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4. When Sharapova’s final ground stroke drifted long, Kerber threw her hands in the air and told the first TV interviewer she met that “this is unbelievable.”
She said she had done it, despite Sharapova’s incredible grit and unwillingness to yield, by “believing in my game.”
Sharapova’s Wimbledon record of 41-11 put her third among active players with Wimbledon victories, behind Venus and Serena Williams, with 73 and 72, respectively.
She has won all four majors at least once, and made it twice at this year’s French Open.
Sharapova put herself deep in a hole in the final game, making three mistakes to start and then having to fight back. With each match point saved the drama built, and Sharapova never backed down, still going for depth and the lines with each shot.
In that game, there were six game points for Kerber (match points), two game points for Sharapova and four deuces.
The drama was not lost on Kerber, whose best Grand Slam tournament finishes have been semifinals at the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 Wimbledon.
“It was just a great match,” Kerber said. “I think the people really enjoyed it out there.”