BIRMINGHAM: Angelique Kerber, who started the year by creating one of the biggest Grand Slam upsets of all time, believes she is only now beginning to deal with the fall-out from her startling success.
The Australian Open champion, 28, revealed that trials and dilemmas have followed her stunning triumph over Serena Williams in Melbourne.
There have been “tough” times since that affected her results, the German acknowledged in Birmingham, a crucial build-up tournament to Wimbledon.
“After almost six months I know how to handle it,” Kerber said half-humorously, speaking at the site of her career-first grass court title last year.
“After Australia a lot of things changed of course. Media especially, and there were many more things to do. I was trying to do everything. I found it hard to say no.”
The consequences of that newfound fame have been considerable.
There has been just one further title, in her home country, in Stuttgart, where she won for a second successive year.
“When I got to Paris (for the French Open last month) there were too many things on my mind, which was not good for my game, not good for my personality,” Kerber admitted.
“I thought I must be clear and not complicated. Go there and have fun. I was thinking there are too many things around me, too many things on my mind. It was tough to make things easy.”
Kerber duly suffered another upset, losing in the first round to Kiki Bertens, and has now slipped two places to world number four since her greatest success.
She arrives in England determined to use the good vibes she experiences from previous success here to entrench her new attitude and new sense of balance.
“I think I have found the middle way after doing all the stuff off court and also being ready on the practice court,” she said. “I think I get used to it.
“It was not easy. I like doing other stuff because you meet people and kids. And it’s really important. That’s also part of the job, which I enjoy. Yes, I found it hard to say no.
“But first I am a tennis player, and I am playing tennis to win matches.”
Kerber’s shift of emphasis back to her game has intensified after her all-too-brief appearance in the French Open.
She took a few days’ rest and had plenty of treatment on her shoulder — mental and physical therapies which she claims have left her “feeling fine.”
Despite this her first-round victory in gloomy conditions yesterday over Peng Shuai, an unorthodox and deceptively talented Chinese player, was laboured.
At least the job was professionally done before rain arrived and disrupted the schedule for a second day.
More is forecast and the third day began Wednesday with more delays to the already revamped schedule, making more upsets likely amidst a field containing half the world’s top 20.