London, United Kingdom: Serena Williams admitted it was a relief to finally clinch a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title as the American star made history with her Wimbledon final victory against Angelique Kerber on Saturday.
Williams had been on the verge of drawing level with Steffi Graf's Open era record of major titles since winning Wimbledon last year.
But the 34-year-old's frustration was mounting after losing in the US Open semi-finals and then this year's Australian and French Open finals.
Finally shrugging off the weight of history on her shoulders, Serena defeated German fourth seed Kerber 7-5, 6-3 to secure a seventh Wimbledon title and the long-awaited share of Graf's landmark.
"It's been incredibly difficult not to think about," Williams said in an interview on Centre Court.
"I had a couple of tries this year and lost to great opponents.
"That makes the victory even sweeter, to know how hard I worked for it. This is awesome.
"This court definitely feels like home. I love playing out here. I don't know what else to say. I'm so excited, thank you!"
In her ninth Wimbledon final, Serena was pushed hard by Kerber before avenging her lost to the 28-year-old in the Australian Open final.
Williams was quick to pay tribute to Kerber and also saluted her entourage, which included her coach Patrick Mouratoglou, sister Venus and pop royalty Beyonce and Jay-Z.
"Angelique - I love playing her, she brings out great tennis in me and off court she's a wonderful person to be around," the world number one said.
"It's such a great feeling to be out here. To my family and whole team - thank you so much. It's just been great. "
Despite the frustration of losing her first Wimbledon final as she failed to become the first German woman to triumph at the All England Club since Graf in 1996, Kerber had no complaints about playing second fiddle to Serena.
"First of all I would like to say congrats to Serena. You really deserve it, you are a great champion, a great person," Kerber said.
"It's always an honour to play against her and it's the best feeling to play here on Centre Court."
The Great Diwali Discount!
Unlock 75% more savings this festive season. Get Moneycontrol Pro for a year for Rs 289 only.
Coupon code: DIWALI. Offer valid till 10th November, 2019 .
Updated Date: Jul 09, 2016 21:35:47 IST