Kerber hopes to take advantage of Serena's absence

London (AFP) –


World number one Angelique Kerber admits Serena Williams' absence from Wimbledon gives her a chance to make amends for last year's final misery.

Kerber was denied a first Wimbledon title by Williams 12 months ago as the American star beat the German in straight sets.

But Williams won't be able to defend the trophy after taking the rest of the year off as she prepares to give birth to her first child.

Not having to deal with the seven-time Wimbledon winner or the injured Maria Sharapova is a major boost to the collection of players, headed by Kerber, hoping to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish for the first time.

"Of course it's different if Serena is not here. We will see. Everything is possible in two weeks," Kerber told reporters at Wimbledon on Saturday.

"There are so many good players right now, so I will not put the pressure on my side.

"There are so many good ones, they can play, they can win tournaments, as well."

To win the title, Kerber needs to improve dramatically after making unwanted history when her defeat against Ekaterina Makarova made her the first top-ranked woman in the Open era to fall in the opening round at Roland Garros.

Kerber, who won the Australian and US Opens last year, has yet to claim a single WTA title in 2017.

Having pulled out of last month's Birmingham tournament with a hamstring injury, Kerber suffered another blow in her grass-court preparations when she lost to Johanna Konta in the Eastbourne quarter-finals earlier this week.

But the 29-year-old, who faces American qualifier Irina Falconi in the Wimbledon first round, believes she is rounding into form now the clay-court campaign is behind her.

- Starting from zero -

"I'm feeling much better playing on grass. I worked very hard the last few weeks after Paris," she said.

"Actually I'm not thinking about Paris, about the clay court season any more.

"For me it's now the next tournament, the next Grand Slam here. You know that everything is possible.

"I'm starting from zero. My mind is just day by day, like last year. I will try to play good tennis again."

Kerber could lose her position on top of the rankings over the next fortnight, with Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova among the contenders to dethrone her.

"I will not put the pressure too high. I'm already so long the No. 1. I will try, of course, to keep it," she said.

"But at the end, I am here to playing round by round and focusing only on my matches, not about the numbers or the rankings."

After such a dispiriting run this year, Kerber says she feels revitalised by her return to Wimbledon.

"It's great being back. When I walked here, a lot of great memories came through my mind," she said.

"I watched few highlights from that match against Serena last year. It's just an amazing match from both of us. Serena was playing unbelievable.

"For me it was really great to walk on court playing finals here. It's tradition. I can say forever I played the final here."