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Williams or Kerber? A stunning comeback in store

By Paul Newman

Angelique Kerber and Serena Williams last played each other in the Wimbledon final two years ago, but when they meet again here today it will be "a completely new match".

That is the view of Kerber, whose tennis fortunes have been through as much turmoil as Williams' life has since the American beat the German on Centre Court two summers ago.

While Williams took 14 months off to have her first baby, Kerber, who had also won the Australian and US Opens during her annus mirabilis in 2016, struggled through 2017.

The 30-year-old German failed to go beyond the fourth round of any Grand Slam tournament last year and fell from No.1 to No.21 in the world rankings.

"We've both learned a lot," Kerber said as she looked forward to playing Williams again. "She's coming back. I'm also coming back from 2017. It will be a new match. I know that I have to play my best tennis to beat her, especially on the grass on the Centre Court, where she won so many titles."

Kerber's fortunes have taken a turn for the better since she appointed Wim Fissette as her coach at the end of last year.

The highly experienced Belgian, who has also worked with Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep, became available after parting company with Johann Konta.

"We tried to improve my game in every single practice session," Kerber said, adding that all the members of her entourage had played a part in her resurgence.

She added: "I can't compare this year with 2016 or 2017. I'm really proud to be back in the Wimbledon final, especially after things didn't go exactly as I was expecting last year.

"To be here again was a goal when I started this year, to be playing well in the Grand Slams and reaching the finals again. It's a great feeling."

Williams was already pregnant when she won the 2017 Australian Open, which was her last tournament before she gave birth to her daughter Olympia in September.

She returned to competition four months ago, but won only two matches in her first two tournaments, in Indian Wells and Miami, and did not play again until the French Open.

The 36-year-old American, who as the World No.181 is the lowest ranked player ever to reach a Wimbledon final, said that she had expected to do better in her first comeback tournaments.

"That was the hardest part," she said. "I worked out a lot and I worked hard. It's kind of been non-stop. I think the hardest part was mentally letting go of a lot of 'mummy' things to fully be 100% on tennis."

Asked whether she took more pride in reaching this Grand Slam final - her 30th - than any other, Williams said: "I can't say it's the one I'm most proud of. I can't say it's not.

"I'm so in a zone in terms of just wanting to keep playing. Being here and having an opportunity to play is great for me."

She added: "I don't know what I expected. I just expected to win a match, then win the next match. Whenever I go out there, I just try to win my match. That's literally all I do."

Williams is aiming to become only the second mother - after Evonne Cawley in 1980 - to win this title in more than 100 years, while this will be the first women's final at the All England Club to be contested by two thirty-somethings since Virginia Wade beat Betty Stove in 1977.

If Williams wins she will equal Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. However, the seven-time Wimbledon champion said she had not given any thought to equalling Court's record.

"I think that's a good thing because I put so much pressure on myself when I was trying to get to 18 (Grand Slam titles) and then the rest," Williams said.

"As I've said in the past couple of years, I don't want to limit myself. It's just a number. I want to get as many as I can."

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