WATCH: Kerber returned to the Wimbledon semifinals with another emphatic performance on Tuesday.

On this Tuesday evening in London, at the club where she’s been an honorary member for three years, Angelique Kerber once again revealed her capacity for candor and deception. Having taken 76 minutes to beat Karolina Muchova, 6-2, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, Kerber was in the semis of a major for the first time since her 2018 title run at the All England Club.

Candor came in the form of Kerber’s comments on her recent tennis journey. She’d turned 33 in January and had built an outstanding resume the hard way, rarely earning free points, relying strongly on her superb court coverage skills. Prior to the 2021 grass-court season, Kerber’s match record was a meager 8-9, lowlighted by first round exits at the Australian Open and Roland Garros and a ranking that had sunk to No. 28. Even two years ago, launching her Wimbledon title defense, she’d exited in the second round.

Said Kerber, “Now I'm back. I'm coming after really tough time. I was not playing good the last few months. Now winning, like, last week a tournament at home, now playing well here again, that means a lot to me.”

Straightforward as Kerber is with her words, the way she plays tennis is far more elliptical, dramatically different from two of the three female lefthanders who’ve won the Wimbledon singles title. Two-time champion Petra Kvitova is a sledgehammer, her Slam-winning form a concussive series of blows. Nine-time winner Martina Navratilova is a stiletto, one sharp dart after another piercing the opposition.


Now I'm back. I'm coming after really tough time. I was not playing good the last few months. Now winning, like, last week a tournament at home, now playing well here again, that means a lot to me. Angelique Kerber

Kerber is altogether different. Serving today at 4-2, 30-40—the first significant point of tension for her in this match—she laced an angled backhand crosscourt. Stepping inside the baseline to field Muchova’s reply, Kerber then drove another backhand up the line for a winner. Holding a point to close out that seventh game, Kerber hit a backhand deep and then feathered a drop shot winner.

In the second set, with Muchova serving at 2-3, 15-40, Kerber scampered for a forehand and drove it sharply crosscourt, her version of the Nadal-like whip. This stunned Muchova, who was only able to hit a backhand that landed shallow in the middle of the court. As Muchova moved to her right, Kerber directed a backhand down the line that proved untouchable. In the next game, serving at 4-2, 40-15, Kerber dashed in for a drop shot and hit a dropper of her own that Muchova barely poked at, making it easy for Kerber to terminate the rally with a facile forehand volley.

As well as Kerber runs, as often as her second serve has comprised her, she is hardly a defensive player. A better term: Kerber is an aggressor, masquerading as a counterpuncher. That is the playing style that has earned her three major singles titles and, eventually a spot in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Her stylistic ancestor might be the only other lefty female who’s won Wimbledon, 1969 champ Ann Jones. As Julie Heldman once wrote about Jones, “Ann’s game is deceptive. She appears to be a pleasant, steady clay-court Briton but she is, in actuality, an attacking ferocious fighter who rarely misses and never gives up.”


Ann Jones is one of three lefties to win Wimbledon besides Kerber (Getty Images).

Ann Jones is one of three lefties to win Wimbledon besides Kerber (Getty Images).

Such assets on Kerber’s end profoundly impacted Muchova, who all match long failed to generate any significant traction. This was surprising. Two years ago, sharp forward movements and crisp volleys had taken Muchova to the quarters in her Wimbledon debut. In February, she’d again shown off extensive versatility on her way to the semis of the Australian Open, including a win over world number one Ashleigh Barty.

But today, Muchova was listless. Most of all, Muchova was betrayed by her forehand, a fairly flat stroke that demands disciplined movement, flexible shape and a committed swing. Sixteen errors flew off that wing. “I think I wasn't patient enough today as I wanted to be, as I planned it before match,” said Muchova. “I didn't really stick to the plan. I was rushing a lot.”

Perhaps one reason for that was nerves. Two years ago, Muchova came out of nowhere. Now, she’s established herself as a contender, a whole other galaxy of hope and expectation.


But the bigger factor was Kerber, more comfortable in the heat of battle during this Wimbledon than she has been in a very long time.

“I think it's tough to compare the years because, yeah, we are three years ahead and a lot of things change,” she said. “But I think what I feel is that I really enjoy to play on the Centre Court here. I mean, even Court 1, it's such a special court for me. It's more like the feeling how to play on grass court, how I feel three years ago. I remember how I played here. I know how to play on grass court.”

Next up, an intriguing semifinal between Kerber and Barty, another player with a game well-suited for grass. The two have split their four matches and have never played one another on grass. Barty’s all-court game has similarities to Muchova’s, but it’s hard to believe the Aussie will play as poorly as the Czech did today. Then again, Kerber will have plenty to say about that, too.