Germany’s Angelique Kerber claimed her first Wimbledon title with a convincing 6-3, 6-3 victory against seven-time champion Serena Williams on Saturday.
The 36-year-old American Williams, who was chasing a record-equalling 24th major title, was broken three times in the opening exchanges as she dropped the first set in half an hour.
Williams had dominated the 2016 final between the pair but this time her 30-year-old rival returned and reversed the result from two years ago to win in 65 minutes with determined shot-making.
It is Kerber’s third grand slam title after her victories at the Australian and US Opens in 2016.
Williams was competing in her first grand slam final since she took maternity leave to give birth to her daughter after winning her last honour in Melbourne at the 2017 Australian Open.
Returning to major action at the French Open in May, she was forced to pull out of her fourth round match due to a pectoral injury.
Kerber endured a difficult 2017 after her most successful campaign the previous year and went without a tournament win for 12 months.
Williams was controversially seeded 25th, due to her history with the tournament as a multiple champion, and made a strong run without facing a fellow seed until the penultimate round.
The American led their head-to-head record 6-2 and a close contest was expected on Centre Court with 11th seed Kerber, the highest left in the draw after a top-10 collapse in the first week of the Championships.
But what followed was a one-sided affair that most wouldn’t have seen coming, including Williams, who made a flat start.
Three straight net errors conceded a break in the opening game as Kerber grabbed a 2-0 head start with a spiked forehand.
The 23-time major champion was broken again at 4-3 and conceded the set with a stiff backhand into the net.
Kerber, who beat Williams to lift her first grand slam title at the Australian Open in 2016, opened up another break point at 3-2 in the second set with a punishing backhand pass, before she moved two games clear with a rasping forehand.
Williams had fought back from a set down in the quarter-finals against Camila Giorgi, but the fighting spirit was clearly spent this time.
After Williams held serve, all eyes were on Kerber, including those of British royalty.
The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, who is a close personal friend of Williams, and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, watched on from the Royal Box.
Kerber bided her time as she waited for a high lob to drop and she whacked a forehand down the line to open up her first match point.
Kerber’s triumph was confirmed in the next rally and she fell to the floor in a heap of overwhelming emotion when Williams hit the net.
She is the first German to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish since Steffi Graf in 1996.