The post-final press conference with the winner of a grand slam provides one with a rare chance of seeing an athlete completely at ease. Overwhelming joy and pride paints any recent disappointment in a different light, it’s a moment when the only thing that matters is a grand slam victory.
This was perhaps particularly the case for Angelique Kerber who was giving little hope of reaching the final at Melbourne Park, never mind beating Serena Williams in the final.
Speaking to the press after her win, Kerber was understandably delighted, she was completely relaxed and really quite funny. These are the highlights from her press conference..
Q. Did you surprise even yourself with the result tonight?
Angelique Kerber: I had really crazy two weeks. With the first round where I was match point down, and then with the win over Azarenka in the quarters. I never beat her. And now to play against Serena, what was a really honour to play against her in a Grand Slam final. It was my first final. I was really looking forward. I was really excited.
I knew before that I beat her once in Cincinnati, that I really must go out there to try to beat her again because she will not give it to me. It was a really great match from both of us.
Yeah, really it’s a special moment for me.
Q. You mentioned the adversity throughout the tournament. How do you stay so composed when you were down in the match?
AK: I was trying to stay relaxed until the last point. The first set I played very well. The second set she was serving much better. The third set every game was really close.
I mean, the game to 3-2, it was like 10 minutes, I think. You know, I was trying really to focusing on myself because when I was up 5-2, I was sure the match is not over yet, you know.
Then like 5-3, 5-4, and she was serving, so I was just telling myself, Okay, you breaked her before few times, so you can do it again. Just play point by point.
When I hit the match point, I was just try to hoping to return the ball over the net. Just hoping, yeah, that I can make the ball and just going for it if I have the chance.
When the ball was out from her, I was just so happy. I mean, it’s amazing.
Q. You talked about the 10-minute game. What compelled you to hit a dropshot game point down?
AK: That’s how I am, a little bit crazy, you know. I really know and I have confidence when I play my dropshots. I was, okay, the game is so long. I must change something what she was not expecting.
I was really hoping the ball was coming over the net because they were like really good. When I hit the first one I said to myself, Okay, make another one. You can do it. It was just like more the feeling in this moment.
Q. (From and Italian journalist) You mentioned before the US Open 2011 when you were No. 92 and you beat Pennetta to go in the semifinal.
AK: You’re always asking about Pennetta. Always (laughter). It’s okay.
Q. I’d like to know when you saw that Pennetta won the US Open, you thought, I could do that?
AK: (joking) I was doing this what you told, right. She won the US Open, I thought, Okay, she can do it. I beat her. I can do it (laughter).
Q. (Question from Italian journalist) Did you know that —
AK: Pennetta (laughter)?
Q. You’ve had great success on the circuit, but now this incredible breakthrough two weeks. What emotion or feeling would capture it most?
AK: I think it’s more like proud. Proud about my team, yeah, my family, my friends. They are always believing in me. I’m not the easiest person sometimes. I had also like a few downs where I was not so believing in myself.
All my families and friends, they believe always in me. They told me, Okay, let’s go to work and you will do it someday. Yeah, that’s true what they said actually at the end. I think it’s more like proud that the hard work pays off right now.
Yeah, I’m just happy. I have so many emotions it’s like crazy.
Q. Can you share a time when it was particularly tough for you.
AK: I think the toughest moment was like 2011 when I was like losing 11 times in the first round. Yeah, there I was thinking, Okay, if I’m doing the right thing. Then I reached the semifinals in New York where I beat Pennetta (laughter). Yeah, then it starts.
Q. How many players in your careers, after the loss, have come to the other side on the court and congratulated you?
AK: Not many. I think Serena’s really a champion. She told me after that she’s really happy for me and that I really deserved it.
So, yeah, you saw that she is really, really a great person. She is like I said, making history. She is inspiring a lot of people. So it’s like you said what she did, it’s like just great from her.
Q. You said you’re not the easiest person. What exactly do you mean by that?
AK: You know, sometimes I was not believing too much in myself. Here it’s change everything. My coaches and everybody, yeah, they saw that I played very good in the practice. They couldn’t understand actually why I can’t transfer it to the matches.
That’s why I think that I am not the easiest one to coach or to say something that it works. I think now I find my best team and they can handle me.
Q. Have you read the message or messages yet from Steffi (Graf)?
AK: (Laughing) No. My phone, it’s charging there (with press officer), so I don’t know. I was just able to call my mom, my parents, my grandparents, and that’s it. So I have no idea.
Q: Does your performance prove how big the mental game is in tennis?
AK: Yeah, for sure. The mental part, it’s really big. I was able to see it also. I mean, you must be relaxed and you must really believe in yourself.
This is actually the biggest thing what I learn also in these two weeks, to go for it. Of course you will have some loses in your career, as well, and also tough moments still.
But, you know, you must believe that you can do it. I learned that in these two weeks.
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