Novak Djokovic admitted doubting himself before securing his second Wimbledon title by beating Roger Federer on Sunday.
The 27-year-old secured his seventh grand slam title in a tense five-set battle with Federer, prevailing 6-7 (7/9) 6-4 7-6 (7/4) 5-7 6-4.
The Serbian denied Federer a record eighth Wimbledon crown, but conceded he feared the match might slip away after failing to convert a match point in the fourth set.
“Congratulations to Roger, he proved what a great champion he is once again here this year,” said Djokovic.
“I respect your career and everything you’ve done Roger - thank you for letting me win today!
“After dropping a fourth set it wasn’t easy to regroup. I tried to compose myself and find the necessary energy to win the fifth. I don’t know how I managed to do it.
“This is the tournament I always dreamed of winning. This is the best tournament in the world, the most valuable one.”
After thanking his family and his camp, Djokovic added: “Last but not least, I would like to dedicate this title to my first coach who taught me all the basics of tennis shots and behaviour and everything I know about tennis - Jelena Gencic - and she passed away last year, and this is for her.”
Djokovic knelt to the turf to eat some of the famous All England Club grass to greet his victory - just as in 2011.
The Belgrade native lost out in last summer’s final to Andy Murray, and admitted it was a thrill to win again.
“The last time I won here was part of a fantastic year, and it’s just amazing for it to happen again,” he said.
A clearly-deflated Federer remained as gracious as ever in defeat despite failing to claim his 18th grand slam title.
The 32-year-old did however concede he was pleased with his run to the final, especially after his wretched 2013 that was dogged by back injuries.
“He’s a great opponent and I would just like to congratulate Novak on his title,” said Federer.
“You know going into a match against Novak it’s going to be tough, I can only say congratulations.
“I’m certainly delighted to have been able to be back here again in this final.”
The final was watched by a crowd that included the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, David Beckham, Sir Alex Ferguson and Samuel L Jackson.
Federer confirmed he had met William and Kate after the match but said: “I wasn’t in a great state. I was unbelievably sad at that moment just when I left the court, so it was a difficult moment for I think the three of us.
“But they were very sweet to comfort me and wish me well, (say) that they enjoyed the match and all these things. We met previously, so that helped I think. Clearly it makes me very happy to see them being supportive of my game and supportive of tennis.”
Federer, watched by wife Mirka and their twin daughters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, added: “It’s just nice being in Wimbledon finals, number one. Winning or losing, it’s always something special and something you’ll remember.”