Angelique Kerber became the first German to win a Grand Slam title since her childhood idol Steffi Graf in 1999 when she upset world number one Serena Williams 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to clinch the Australian Open on Saturday.
The 34-year-old American had been seeking her seventh Melbourne Park title and 22nd overall, which would have moved her into a tie with Graf for the most Grand Slam singles titles in the Open era.
The seventh seeded Kerber, however, was not overawed by the occasion of her first grand slam final, breaking twice in the first set as Williams made 23 unforced errors.
Williams cut down on the errors to send it into a third, which Kerber, who had the opportunity to serve it out while leading 5-3 only for the American to battle back, clinched when Williams hit a volley long in the next game.
“When I played here the first round I was match point down and playing with one leg on the plane to Germany,” an emotional Kerber said in a courtside interview.
“I took my second chance to play the final against Serena. To win it is my dream come true.
“Now I can say I’m a Grand Slam champion and it sounds really crazy.”
The opening salvo had looked ominous as Williams raced through the first game to love and then put pressure on the German, who was down 15-30 after a double fault but managed to suppress any demons she may have had and held on.
The 28-year-old German then played superb defensive tennis against the powerful Williams, scrambling to force her to play an extra shot that ultimately contributed to 23 unforced errors from the American in the first set.
Those errors and a lack of timing on several potential winners enabled the German to break again in the seventh game and then seal the first set in 39 minutes when Williams made another unforced error.