LONDON, Great Britain - Seven-time champion Serena Williams is back into the championship match at Wimbledon after taking down the always-tricky Barbora Strycova in straight sets on Thursday.
Serena dropped just three games in a dominant semifinal performance, and fired 27 winners and four aces en route to a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Strycova. It’s her third Grand Slam final in the last 12 months after reaching the Wimbledon and US Open finals last year.
“Now I'm in a different place,” Serena reflected in her post-match press conference. “Like I just am more calm. Instead of having nothing to lose, I feel like I have things to lose, but I also have nothing to lose. It's like I'm in the middle.
“I really want to do it. I'm in a different place because I wasn't really playing a month ago, like, at all. So it's all kind of coming together. I can't really put how I'm taking it.”
The 23-time Grand Slam winner already has more Grand Slams than anyone in the Open Era after surpassing Stefanie Graf’s 22 titles two years ago, and now Serena will seek to tie the all-time record and equal Margaret Court’s 24 titles.
“I actually didn't think about it since because it's really not about 24 or 23 or 25,” Serena assured. “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.”
Serena looked completely at home on Centre Court up against 33-year-old Strycova, now the oldest first-time Slam semifinalist in the Open Era - surpassing Roberta Vinci, who was 32 in her 2015 US Open run.
Serena’s serve dictated play, and her strong deliveries ensured that she didn’t get broken at all during the match, saving all three break points faced. Applying the pressure against Strycova’s serve, Serena finally broke for an early 3-1 lead.
After extending her lead to 5-1, Serena faced a late wobble when serving out the set: she found herself trailing 0-40 after a spate of loose unforced errors, and Strycova looked eager to capitalize. But the former World No.1 dug herself out of trouble, and served out the set to take it 6-1.
Serena continued to dominate in the second set, which saw her drop just four points in total on her service games. The American covered the court with ease, finishing points at the net and hitting winners off of both wings. She reeled off the last five games in a row, breaking twice to seal the victory in just 59 minutes.
“I promise you, when I hit a volley I was like, Would I have made that if I didn't play doubles? I don't think so,” Serena said. “I really feel like it helped me, not just for today and this event, but hopefully it will help me just in the future.”
Standing between Serena and the Venus Rosewater Dish will be former French Open champion Simona Halep, who eased past Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-3. It’ll be Serena and Halep’s 11th career meeting, with the American dominating the head-to-head record at nine wins to one.
“I think the biggest key with our matches is the loss that I had,” Serena said, referring to Halep’s 6-0, 6-2 WTA Finals victory in 2015. “I never forgot it. She played unbelievable. That makes me know that level she played at, she can get there again. So I have to be better than that.”