The year 2011 was significant for Angelique Kerber. The German tennis star reckons that the US Open that year was a watershed moment in her career. She had not been at the top of her game then, getting knocked out in the early rounds at several tournaments. But at Flushing Meadows, the then-unseeded player outperformed herself and advanced into the semi-finals, before losing to eventual champion Samantha Stosur. It was there that she rediscovered the joys of playing tennis and regained her self-confidence. To mark the turning point of her career, she purchased a Rolex timepiece for herself in New York.
“The tournament was a real breakthrough in my career and a Rolex was always something I had dreamed of owning,” she told us in an exclusive e-mail interview. “I wanted to reward myself with something special that commemorated that moment.”
Known for her aggressive all-court game, the 30-year-old has since amassed 12 singles titles on the Women’s Tennis Association or WTA tour, including Grand Slam tournaments such as the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Her latest major triumph came this year at Wimbledon, where she downed American Serena Williams in straight sets in the finals. Kerber was in town for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore in October and the left-hander, who became a Rolex Testimonee in 2017, tells us more about her season this year, her game and winning the 2018 Wimbledon title.
How do you rate your 2018 season?
Angelique Kerber (AK) In retrospect, even after a great season like this one, there are always titles that I still want to win. However, winning Wimbledon has been one of my biggest dreams ever since I started playing tennis, so that is definitely something.
What crossed your mind after clinching the deciding point at the Wimbledon 2018 finals?
AK There were so many mixed emotions at that moment. Pride, gratefulness, pure joy... it’s hard to describe the feeling of reaching a lifelong goal. Years of dedication and hard work had finally paid off.
How does it feel to defeat a legend like Serena Williams at Wimbledon?
AK Serena is undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes ever to play this game, which makes it extra special to face her in a Grand Slam final. Beating her in a Wimbledon final will always be a match I would remember. I still get goosebumps thinking back.
What do you think gave you the edge in the game?
AK On the biggest stages of sports, it’s the mental part that makes the difference. When I stepped onto the court, I believed in myself and my game. That was key.
In 2016, you became world number one at age 28, earning the tag of the oldest top‑ranked female player in history. But was it worth the wait?
AK To climb the rankings to the top, you have to overcome many challenges in an extremely competitive environment. My journey just took a little longer. But seriously, I learned a lot throughout the journey, especially when it comes to dealing with setbacks, which is an inevitable part of the process. I think my career also serves as an example that you should always believe in yourself and never give up—no matter what.
What is your strongest suit and what aspect of your game will you be focusing on post‑season?
AK I believe I have a great feel for the ball, and many things on court do come quite naturally and intuitively to me. I particularly like my forehand longline and backhand cross-court. However, there are many things that I can still improve on such as my serve and volleys.
What are your goals for next season?
AK My primary goal is always to improve as a player and as a person. It’s the best strategy to achieve the results that you’re hoping for. Apart from that, I’ll focus on a good clay court preparation since the Roland Garros title [at the French Open] is still missing from my Grand Slam collection.
Which Rolex philosophy do you personally identify with?
AK There’s so much about Rolex that I relate to: the strive for excellence, the love for innovative approaches, a sense of tradition, among other values that have helped me going forward in my career.
All the Rolex Testimonees have achieved something in their lives or are heavyweights in their industries. Do you think you live up to that billing?
AK It’s certainly an extraordinary group of people to be a part of, and I consider it a huge privilege. Whether I live up to it or not is not for me to say. However, I can say that my passion for what I do and my strive for excellence are my links to the other Rolex Testimonees.