No denying Serena this time as she equals Graf's record

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Grand slam No. 22 and still counting as Serena equals Graf

LONDON, July 9 (Reuters) - It was third time lucky for American Serena Williams as she finally matched Steffi Graf's professional era record of 22 grand slam singles titles by beating Angelique Kerber to claim a seventh Wimbledon crown on Saturday.

Top seed Williams was forced to play some of her best tennis by resolute Kerber in an engrossing Centre Court duel and her formidable firepower proved decisive in a 7-5 6-3 over her German opponent.

SEE ALSO: Kate Middleton makes special appearance on Serena Williams' Snapchat

Kerber had stopped Williams in the Australian Open final to win her first grand slam title and last month Spain's Garbine Muguruza also kept the 34-year-old waiting to equal Graf's mark when she beat her in the French Open final.

But this time Williams would not be denied.

To her great credit fourth seed Kerber stayed in contention throughout a fascinating match of contrasting styles, but with the Williams serve at its destructive best there was only so much punishment she could absorb on a blustery court.

See more Serena's big win:

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Serena Williams wins Wimbledon
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Serena Williams wins Wimbledon
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 USA's Serena Williams celebrates winning her womens singles final match against Germany's Angelique Kerber with the trophy REUTERS/Toby Melville
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 USA's Serena Williams and Germany's Angelique Kerber hold their respective winner and runner up trophies after Serena Williams won their womens singles final match REUTERS/Toby Melville
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 USA's Serena Williams and Germany's Angelique Kerber hold their respective winner and runner up trophies after Serena Williams won their womens singles final match REUTERS/Toby Melville
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 USA's Serena Williams and Germany's Angelique Kerber hold their respective winner and runner up trophies after Serena Williams won their womens singles final match REUTERS/Toby Melville
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 USA's Serena Williams celebrates winning her womens singles final match against Germany's Angelique Kerber with the trophy REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 USA's Serena Williams with Germany's Angelique Kerber after winning their womens singles final match REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 USA's Serena Williams celebrates winning her womens singles final match against Germany's Angelique Kerber REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 Germany's Angelique Kerber in action againstUSA's Serena Williams in the womens singles final REUTERS/Toby Melville
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 USA's Serena Williams celebrates winning her womens singles final match against Germany's Angelique Kerber with the trophy REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 USA's Serena Williams celebrates during her womens singles final match against Germany's Angelique Kerber REUTERS/Toby Melville
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 USA's Serena Williams celebrates winning the first set in the womens singles final match against Germany's Angelique Kerber REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 USA's Serena Williams reacts during her womens singles final match against Germany's Angelique Kerber REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 USA's Serena Williams in action against Germany's Angelique Kerber during the womens singles final REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 Singer Beyonce with her husband musician Jay Z with USA's Serena Williams' family and friends on centre court during the womens singles final REUTERS/Adam Davy/Pool
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 7/9/16 USA's Serena Williams in action against Germany's Angelique Kerber during the womens singles final REUTERS/Toby Melville
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The end came quickly when Kerber was broken for the second time in the match in the seventh game of the second set and Williams roared to the title with a love game, sealing victory with a simple volley before joyfully collapsing to the turf.

"It's been incredibly difficult not to think about it (Graf's record)," a smiling Serena said on court as she clutched the Venus Rosewater Dish.

"I had a couple of tries this year but lost to two great opponents, one of them being Angelique. But it makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard I worked for it.

"Thanks you guys for being out here to see number 22, this is awesome," she said to the crowd who were treated to a one hour 21 minute final full of absorbing rallies.

Williams won 38 of 43 points on her first serve and faced only one break point, at 3-3 in the second set, which she saved with one of the 13 booming aces she delivered.

See how famous faces reacted to Serena's big win:

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Social media reactions to Serena Williams' Wimbledon win
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Social media reactions to Serena Williams' Wimbledon win
@serenawilliams feels like the hope of our nation is a very troubling week. We love you Serena #WimbledonFinals https://t.co/tuQFhgZp9f
#Serena 🙏🏾 I bow down. And am simultaneously uplifted.
Way to go @serenawilliams - you are a true champion. Proud of you!
This image speaks VOLUMES! 🗣 Proud to call you my friend @serenawilliams Thank you for inspiring all of us!!! Your … https://t.co/LZsiUmH5ff
YES @serenawilliams !! 🙌🏽❤🎾️ well deserved #Wimbledon xjadex
Man I'm crying. @serenawilliams just put a small bandaid on my heart! Thank you!!!! Thank you my beautiful friend!
So happy for and proud of the greatest American athlete of all time @SerenaWilliams!! #22SinglesTitles
"There are days that I don't feel like training, but there is no day that I feel like losing." -Serena Williams
"I feel that energy & prayers...It encourages me to do better, fight harder" @serenawilliams on black folks' stake in her wins. @glamourmag
I am so happy right now!!! Congrats @serenawilliams !!! WE WON WIMBLEDON!!! Lol. The ball boys… https://t.co/DZwr94mw9r
@serenawilliams v @AngeliqueKerber @Wimbledon Serena = champion! Incredible effort. You're a class act. #22
Hell yeah @serenawilliams! https://t.co/qCMGumzodk
SERENA!!!!! YES!!!! a spectacular match! Congratulations @serenawilliams !‼️‼️‼️‼️
BOOM! What a champion. Congrats @serenawilliams #wimbledon https://t.co/rXfVeEGSIe
Congrats to my girl @serenawilliams on making history!!!!! Truly the GOAT! Thank you for inspiring he world! 🏆🏆🏆🎾🎾🎾
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GREATEST WEAPON

"It's the single greatest weapon in the history of the women's game, followed closely by her will to win," was three-times men's champion John McEnroe's succinct summing up of what keeps world number one Williams in a league of her own.

Kerber had not dropped a set in reaching the final and scuppered hopes of a first all-Williams grand slam final since 2009 when comprehensively beating Venus in the semis.

With a memorable win against Serena in Melbourne, the German walked on court full of belief -- winning the opening point of the final with a cleanly struck forehand.

Williams had three break points in the second game but could not convert any of them.

She bristled with intensity and was bent double, pumping both fists, when winning a long rally at 3-3 as Kerber made her first inroads against the American's serve.

Having coped admirably with the heavy artillery heading her way, Kerber's downfall when serving at 5-6 in the first set was self-inflicted as two poor errors opened the door for Williams to take the opener.

Kerber stuck to her guns in the second set and managed to earn a break point at 3-3 but Williams responded with consecutive aces to deflate the German.

Williams ended up in a heap on the floor in the next game after a close-quarters exchange at the net, but picked herself up to break for a 5-3 lead as Kerber finally crumbled.

Her trusty serve then did the rest as she also joined Graf on seven Wimbledon singles titles.

Related: See Serena and Venus Williams through the years:

26 PHOTOS
Venus and Serena Williams through the years
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Venus and Serena Williams through the years
Venus Williams (L) and her sister Serena of the U.S. celebrate their victory in the doubles finals against Mariaan de Swardt of South Africa and Elena Tatarkova of the Ukraine at the European indoor championships in Kloten October 18. The Williams sisters won 5-7 6-1 6-3. MUE/MR/AA
Serena Williams (back) goes after a second set shot from her sister Venus Williams March 28 in the final match at the Lipton Championships. Venus defeated Serena 6-1 4-6 6-4 to take the title. CB/ELD/CLH/
Serena Williams from the United States (R) holds the Grand Slam Cup trophy after the final match against her sister Venus at the Grand Slam Cup in Munich, October 3. Serena won the match 6-1 3-6 6-4. MAD/ME
USA'S Serena Williams (L) and sister Venus practice for the Olympic Games in Sydney, September 21, 2000. The Williams sisters are competing for the United States in the Games of the XXVII Olympiad. MBAZ/HB
Venus Williams (R) embraces her sister Serena Williams after she won the women's final at the U.S. Open Tennis Championship in New York September 8, 2001. Venus Williams won 6-2 6-4 in a sixty-nine minute match, repeating her final's win from last year. Tonight's final is the first Grand Slam final contested by sisters since Maud Watson beat Lilian Watson 117 years ago in the first Wimbledon women's final in 1884. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn JP
Venus (R) and Serena Williams of the U.S. confer during their women's doubles match [against Slovenia's Tina Krizan and Katarina Srebotnik] at the Wimbledon tennis championships, July 5, 2002. The Williams sisters won 6-2 6-0.
Serena Williams of the United States returns to her sister [Venus] during the women's final at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, New York, September 7, 2002.
Serena Williams of the United States (L) is greeted at the net by her sister Venus following the women's final at the U.S. Open in Flushing, New York, September 7, 2002. Serena won the match 6-4 6-3 to capture the U.S. Open title. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine SB
Venus (R) and Serena Williams (L) of the U.S. play third round women's doubles against Russia's Elena Dementieva and Lina Krasnoroutskaya at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 1, 2003. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi AB/ASA
U.S tennis players Serena (L) and Venus Williams smile during a children's tennis practice session on court at Wimbledon in south west london, June 17, 2004. The Wimbledon championships begin on June 21. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty KD/AA
Serena Williams reacts after a missed point against sister [Venus] in their fourth round match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, New York, September 4, 2005. [Venus] defeated Serena 7-6 6-2.
Venus Williams of the U.S hits a return to sister Serena Williams during their fourth round match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, New York, September 4, 2005. REUTERS/Mike Segar JA/mk
Serena (L) and Venus Williams of the U.S. reach for the ball during their semi-finals doubles match against Nathalie Dechy of France and Casey Dellacqua of Australia at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London July 4, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN)
Gold medallists Serena (R) and Venus Williams of the U.S. celebrate on the podium after the women's doubles tennis competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 17, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville (CHINA)
Serena Williams (L) of the U.S. and her sister Venus talk, after winning their women's doubles final match against Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova and Japan's Ai Sugiyama, at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 30, 2009. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic (AUSTRALIA)
Serena Williams of the U.S. serves the ball to sister and compatriot Venus Williams during their semi-final match at the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships February 20, 2009. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Venus Williams of the U.S. serves the ball to sister and compatriot Serena Williams during their semi-final match at the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships February 20, 2009. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Venus Williams of the U.S. (L) and Serena Williams of the U.S. pose for a photograph before their Ladies' Singles finals match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 4, 2009. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN SPORT TENNIS)
Serena Williams (L) of the U.S. grimaces after being hit by a serve from her sister Venus during their doubles match against Julia Goerges of Germany and Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York September 3, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES SPORT TENNIS)
Sisters Serena Williams (R) and Venus Williams of the U.S. celebrate after defeating Czech Republic's Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the women's doubles tennis gold medal match at the All England Lawn Tennis Club during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 5, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT TENNIS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
U.S tennis players Serena Williams (L) and Venus Williams look on during a news conference in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos October 31, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye (NIGERIA - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)
Venus Williams (top) serves as she and her sister Serena of the U.S. play doubles against compatriots Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York August 31, 2013. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 6/7/15 Women's Singles - USA's Serena Williams and USA's Venus Williams embrace after their fourth round match Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Serena Williams of the U.S. follows the flight of the ball as she falls on a return shot to her sister and compatriot Venus Williams during their quarterfinals match at the U.S. Open Championships tennis tournament in New York, September 8, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 9/7/16 USA's Serena Williams and Venus Williams celebrate winning their womens doubles final against Hungary's Timea Babos and Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova with the trophies REUTERS/Tony O'Brien
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