Urged on by husband Alexis Ohanian and her celebrity supporters, Williams upped her aggression and noise level, almost taking out her opponent with a thunderous drive volley in the third game of the second set.
But instead, the 36-year-old produced an error-strewn display in a 6-3, 6-3 loss that ranked as her first Wimbledon final defeat since 2008.
In that regard, Williams scored a victory of effect in reaching Wimbledon's final for a 10th time in her career - pushing herself to serve harder, run faster and do whatever was demanded to progress through the two-week competition.
Serena Williams is projected to rise from 181 to 28 in the WTA rankings.
Kerber won her first championship at the All England Club and third major overall by playing cleanly as can be and picking her spots for big shots, beating Williams 6-3 6-3.
American great Billie Jean King said William's run to the final so soon into her return showed how special she is. But I was trying to tell myself, "Go out there and play your best match", because I know that against Serena I have to play my best tennis, especially in the important moments.
Also supporting Williams on Centre Court were golfer Tiger Woods and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.
Williams played unseeded at the French Open in Paris in May, eventually pulling out of the Grand Slam tournament in the fourth round due to an injury.
Eden Hazard to Real Madrid: Chelsea star drops big future hint
You know I've spent six (years) in England. " The only thing is that my children live in Madrid, I would like them to be close ". Hazard is now at the World Cup with the Red Devils, where he will contest the third-place playoff against England on Saturday.
After winning her semifinal against Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-3, Kerber was asked what she sees across the net when she goes up against Williams. Djokovic's 5-hour, 15-minute victory over Nadal didn't start until Anderson-Isner ended, and so it was carried over into Saturday before finishing 10-8 in the fifth.
Wimbledon organisers were slammed by social media for the move, with some suggesting the decision was sexist because the women's final had to sacrifice it's starting time to accommodate the men's semi-final. Perhaps more impressive was this: She broke Williams in 4 of 9 service games.
The victor will face Kevin Anderson in Sunday's final.
After Kerber defeated Karolina Pliskova to lift her second slam title at the US Open later that summer and climb to world No 1, it seemed Williams might have a consistent challenger at the top of the game.
Angelique Kerber is the Women's champion at Wimbledon this year, but Serena Williams won more than she could ever lose.
Angelique Kerber was not about to be overwhelmed by the setting or the stakes in this Wimbledon final. Afterward, neither woman quibbled over the late start, pointing out that tournament officials had no option otherwise and insisting it hadn't affected them.
She would recover to make it 30-all but Kerber - who had become extremely tentative with her serving - managed to squeeze a forehand down the line.