It’s a good thing Angelique Kerber has the stomach for a fight, for no one serves up revenge quite like Serena Williams.
Just ask Maria Sharapova.
Six months after denying Williams an elusive, record-equalling 22nd grand slam singles crown at the Australian Open, Kerber will square off with the world No.1 in Saturday’s Wimbledon final.
The stakes have rarely been higher for Williams, who, at almost 35, will unlikely get many more chances to equal Steffi Graf’s open-era benchmark tally of major titles.
And the American made it clear after brushing aside Elena Vesnina 6-2 6-0 in 48 minutes – the swiftest Wimbledon’s semi-final in professional tennis history – she hasn’t forgotten that disappointing summer night in Melbourne in January.
“I made a lot of errors,” Williams said when asked how she planned to turn things around.
“She made little to no unforced errors. It was still a three-set match. I felt like I could have played better.
“I felt like she played great. She came out swinging, ready to win. She was fearless.
“That’s something I learned. When I go into a final, I, too, need to be fearless like she was.”
Make no mistake, Kerber has been warned.
The last time Williams lost a Wimbledon final, to Sharapova back in 2004, she proceeded to dish out seven grand slam beatings in a row to the Russian – and 17 wins straight over 12 years.
Kerber, though, remains none too concerned.
In thwarting hopes of a fifth all-sister final at the All England Club with a 6-4 6-4 win over Venus Williams in Thursday’s second semi, the free-hitting German left-hander showed Wimbledon was no place for sentiment.
The 28-year-old has grand slam designs of her own.
While she knows Williams will be hungry, Kerber – more relaxed after landing her first slam – also suspects the top seed will be vulnerable against an underdog with little to lose.
“For sure I will go out there with a lot of confidence,” the fourth seed said.
“At the end it’s a completely new match. We are playing on grass court. She lost the final against me and I know she will go out and try everything to beat me right now.
“I will just try to going out there like in Australia, trying to show her, okay, I’m here to win the match, as well.”
Champion in 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2015, Williams will be contesting her 28th grand slam final in total – and ninth at the All England Club – and is an overwhelming favourite.
Her only finals defeats on London’s famous grass courts came against Sharapova, then Venus in 2008.
Williams’ comprehensive victory over Vesnina was also the most one-sided women’s semi-final at the All England since Graf thrashed Pam Shriver 6-0 6-2 in 1997.
In a serving masterclass, Serena fired down 11 aces and lost only three points on serve all match against the Russian, and just five in total in the second-set bagel.
But her losses to Kerber at Melbourne Park, after a stunning semi-final slip up against Roberta Vinci in the 2015 US Open semi-finals, then to Garbine Muguruza in last month’s Roland Garros decider is evidence enough the all-conquering world No.1 is once again vulnerable with it all on the line.