Serena Williams made it look easy in the Wimbledon semifinals. What she really cares about, of course, is what comes next.
That’s why she puts in all the work. Why she keeps at it with everything she’s already won, everything she’s already accomplished.
Williams is once again on the verge of an eighth Wimbledon championship and 24th Grand Slam title, moving into the final at the All England Club with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over an overmatched Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic yesterday.
Tomorrow, Williams will take on No. 7-seeded Simona Halep of Romania, a 6-1, 6-3 winner over No. 8 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine under a cloudy sky at Centre Court.
It’ll be the 11th final at the All England Club for Williams and the first for Halep, whose only major trophy came at the French Open last year.
“I look forward to it,” Williams said.
Why wouldn’t she? She owns a 9-1 career record against Halep, including a victory in the Australian Open’s fourth round in January.
Still, the 37-year-old American also knows that she’s been this close to No. 24 before: In 2018, her first season back on tour after the birth of her daughter, Olympia, Williams reached the finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open but lost each time.
That has left her Grand Slam total at 23, a record for the professional era and one fewer than Margaret Court accumulated while playing part of her career against amateur competition.
“I have a great job and I love what I do,” Williams said, “and I’m still pretty good at what I do, I guess.”
Sure, Serena. Just pretty good.
It’s been an up-and-down year because of illness and injury, limiting Williams to 12 matches until last week. After a third-round loss at Roland Garros on June 1, she stayed in France for medical treatment and finally felt pain-free while preparing for Wimbledon in England.
“It’s definitely a lot better,” Williams said. “Every match, I know that I’m improving.”
After a three-set struggle against Alison Riske in the quarterfinals Tuesday, Williams was at her dominant best against Strycova, who appeared limited by some sort of issue with her right leg. As it is, the 33-year-old Strycova was the oldest first-time Grand Slam semifinalist in the professional era.
Williams played cleanly, accumulating nearly twice as many winners as unforced errors, 28-10. She was at her usual court-covering best, which helped limit Strycova to 10 winners. And Williams played calmly.
The semifinal’s turning point came quickly. Ahead 2-1 in the first set while Strycova served at 30-all, Williams sailed a backhand return way long and let out a cry of “Aaah!”
Maybe that got her going, because she simply took over. HOWARD FENDRICH, WIMBLEDON, AP