In a thrilling rollercoaster of a final that lasted just over an hour, the Scottish No 3 seed retained the trophy with a gutsy 21-16, 18-21, 21-18 victory over Denmark’s Line Hojmark Kjaersfeldt.
Gilmour had beaten Chinese top seed Cai Yanyan in another dramatic match in Saturday’s semi-finals – she fought back from dropping the opening game – and her final win over the second ranked payer was sweet revenge for defeat in the 2015 final.
But it certainly wasn’t plain sailing. Even at the end, she made it hard for her supporters. She held seven match points in the deciding game – and needed six of them before securing her place at the top of the podium.
Midway through the second game, Gilmour gave her fans a real fright when one of her trademark dives ended up with her clutching her right thigh in pain. From then on, it was clear she was in severe discomfort.
But she battled on and, when Kjaersfeldt hit the shuttlecock into the net at 20-18 down in the third game, Gilmour celebrated victory by joyfully tossing her racket in the air before collapsing on to court. Relief was written all over her face.
After a match that was both physically and mentally demanding, Gilmour could not hold back the tears.
“This is my favourite place in the world, not just for badminton,” she said of the Emirates, where she won Commonwealth Games silver at Glasgow 2014. “The crowd is always amazing, thank you so much.
“It was tough at the end of the third game. Line was scrapping for everything and playing for her life. But I just had to try and not let myself think about winning, not to get ahead of myself.”
Asked if her leg was OK, she smiled and didn’t hesitate to reply. “No,” she said emphatically. “I’ve got a dead leg but adrenaline is a wonderful thing. In ten minutes, I’ll not be able to move. But you just have to try to forget about it.”
Ranked No 28 and seven places behind Hjaersfeldt in the world rankings, it was a great test for Gilmour.
She held the upper hand throughout the first game and looked set for a straight games victory when she led 17-14 in the second. But she couldn’t slam the door.
Her opponent, a year younger at 24, drew level at 18-all and then won three points in a row to bravely shove the match into a decider. But the home favourite showed her grit and determination, winning the first five points without reply and storming to the 20-13 lead – but then there was the nail-biting climax.
“It is really great to win the title again,” concluded the emotional Gilmour. “I just loving playing here so much.”
England’s Marcus Ellis, top seed in both disciplines, duly completed a double. He joined his 2016 Olympic medal winning partner, Chris Langridge, in taking the men’s doubles.
In the final match on court, it was an entertaining tussle, with the English pair eventually winning 23-21, 21-16 against Denmark’s David Daugaard and Frederik Sogaard.
Earlier, Ellis had lifted the mixed trophy with Lauren Smith, their opponents – Jacco Arends and Selena Piek – having to retire through injury at 13-6 behind in the opening game.
In an all-Chinese men’s singles final featuring two unseeded players, Liu Haichao beat Sun Feixang 21-17, 22-20, while Bulgarian sisters, Gabriela and Stefani Stioeva, won the women’s doubles title for a second time.