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Make no mistake: Serena Williams is back

Her 24th major title seems like just a matter of time

Serena Williams’ eyes got wide as she raced to the net to position herself for the easy smash in a game that she desperately needed to win to get back into her Wimbledon championship match.

With power, Williams connected.

The ball sailed long.

And Williams dejectedly dropped to a knee.

There was still a bit of tennis to be played, but at that moment Williams had to realize that her miraculous run at Wimbledon was over.

For Williams, the number 24 (the record for all-time major titles) will have to wait, as Angelique Kerber won Saturday’s Wimbledon final in straight sets (6-3, 6-3).

It was just the third time in her career that Williams lost a Wimbledon final. And Kerber joins Venus Williams as the only players to beat Williams twice in the final of a Grand Slam.

Williams, playing in her first Grand Slam final since winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant, fought back tears during her on-court interview after the match.

“To all the moms out there, I was playing for you today, and I tried,” Williams said. “But Angelique played really well, she played out her mind.”

While Williams entered the final as the lower seed (No. 25; Kerber was No. 11), she was favored to win the match based on her improving play over the course of the tournament as well as her experience at Wimbledon, where she had won seven titles.

But despite Williams having an edge in aces (four to one), and winners (23 to 11), she was done in by 24 unforced errors (Kerber had only four). She misconnected on shots that usually result in winners and appeared to be caught off guard as Kerber covered the court well, showing an ability to track down balls that most of Williams’ opponents during this tournament have been unable to get.

But make no mistake: Williams is back, just 10 months after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia, last September. After entering the tournament ranked No. 181, she’ll rise to No. 28 when the new list is released next week.

Williams has regained her power and her side-to-side movement, something she lacked while playing a Fed Cup match in Asheville, North Carolina, in February.

Back then, the number 24 for Williams (which would tie Margaret Court for the most Grand Slam singles titles) seemed a distant objective.

Right now, 24 seems like just a matter of time.

“It was such an amazing tournament for me, and I was really happy to get this far,” Williams told the crowd after her runner-up finish. “It’s obviously disappointing, but I can’t be disappointed. I’m just getting started.”

Jerry Bembry is a senior writer at The Undefeated. His bucket list items include being serenaded by Lizz Wright, and watching the Knicks play an NBA game in June.