Wednesday 17 July 2019

Serene Serena edges closer to matching Court's record

All smiles for Serena: Serena Williams gestures to the crowd after booking her place in the Wimbledon final. The 37-year-old will bid to match Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams tomorrow when she faces Simona Halep in the final. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
All smiles for Serena: Serena Williams gestures to the crowd after booking her place in the Wimbledon final. The 37-year-old will bid to match Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams tomorrow when she faces Simona Halep in the final. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Simon Briggs

The lesson of the semi-finals was clear. A serene Serena Williams remains all but invincible, even as she approaches her 38th birthday.

Williams produced her most dominant win of the tournament yesterday, barging an underpowered Barbora Strycova out of her way in just 59 minutes.

Then, after rounding off a straight-sets victory with her 28th clean winner, Williams told reporters about a moment of quiet contemplation earlier in the day.

Asked about her pursuit of Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 major titles - a tally she would equal if she beats Simona Halep in tomorrow's final - Williams said: "I thought about it this morning. I just kind of let it go this morning. Yeah, I feel really calm about it.

"It's really not about 24 or 23 or 25. It's really just about going out there and giving my best effort no matter what. No matter what I do, I will always have a great career."

Offered

Yesterday's match offered the same banana-skin potential as Williams's 2015 US Open semi-final against Roberta Vinci. In both cases, Williams was the strong favourite, taking on a veteran of the tour who had never reached that stage of a major before. And in both cases, there was a massive prize at stake - either the calendar grand slam, four years ago, or equalling Court's record this time around.

Vinci and Strycova even employed a similar game style. A pair of champion doubles players, they tried to outflank Williams's raw power with changes of pace and frequent visits to the net. But while Williams had been flustered and erratic against Vinci, she was a model of composure yesterday.

"I was actually thinking this morning (about) when I won my first Wimbledon," Williams said.

"I think it was against Venus (Williams). I was trying to tap into those emotions. I was really calm. It's so, so different when you're younger as opposed to now."

Halep inflicted an equally crushing defeat on eighth seed Elina Svitolina yesterday.

Telegraph.co.uk

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