London, 12 July 2019 (dpa/MIA) – Serena Williams is through to her 11th Wimbledon final following a 6-1, 6-2 dominant victory over Czech Barbora Strycova in Thursday’s semi-final.
Simona Halep was just as confident in her 6-1, 6-3 triumph over Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina to meet Williams in her first trophy match at the All-England Club.
“I played many matches against her. Many of them were very close,” said Halep, who has only beaten Williams once in 10 attempts with her sole success coming at Indian Wells in 2015.
“Now I feel stronger mentally facing her. It’s just a big challenge for me.”
The seven-time Wimbledon winner Williams powered to the first set with two breaks to lead the 33-year-old Strycova after 27 minutes.
Williams broke Strycova’s serve twice more in the second set to seal her 98th Wimbledon win and enters the final as the oldest participant at 37 years and 291 days.
In the final, Williams will look to equal another record of 24 major wins, which is held by Australian Margaret Court.
“I actually didn’t think about it,” said the 23-time major champion when asked about the record.
“It’s really not about 24 or 23 or 25. No matter what I do, I will always have a great career. I feel really calm about it.”
It will be the fourth consecutive Wimbledon final Williams has played in from 2015 barring a gap year.
After being absent in 2017 due to pregnancy, Williams returned to reach the 2018 Wimbledon final but lost to German Angelique Kerber.
She progressed to the main stage again at the US Open and failed to succeed in a controversial loss to Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
Williams was involved in an altercation with umpire Carlos Ramos, who docked points for on-court code violations.
“I had to get to those finals,” said Williams.
“Looking back, to even be in those two finals last year was unbelievable. Now I’m in a different place. It’s all kind of coming together.”
Halep’s progress to the final means she will rise three places in the world rankings from her current position of seventh, to number four.
The first set was initially not easy for Halep as she displayed signs of nervousness with two double faults and was forced to save three break points in the opening game.
“After the first game, I was really tired,” said Halep.
“She was really strong. She didn’t give up a point. The rallies were very long and very powerful. It was really tough to stay there.”
But Svitolina was the first to fold as the 24-year-old was outplayed in the rallies to fall 2-0 behind.
Svitolina, who was competing in her first major semi-final, kicked the ball into the net after her volley return failed to lose her serve again and trail Halep 3-1.
“I think she played unbelievable today. It’s a little bit of me making poor decisions in some important moments,” said Svitolina.
Halep sprinted for a cross-court forehand to break again for 5-1 and in a lengthy exchange, the former world number one finally claimed the opening set after missing five opportunities.
In the second set, Svitolina’s exit from the tournament was built when a hopeless return sailed wide for Halep to break and then hold serve for 5-3.
Svitolina’s energy was negative as a wild forehand volley opened up match points for Halep.
When Svitolina’s backhand hit the net to end the contest after 72 minutes, Halep raised her racket in the air.
The 2018 French Open champion put her hands on her head as the realization took hold that she had returned to the main stage of a major for the chance to win a second grand slam tournament.