Chasing 24th grand slam title, Serena targets 'calm' space

United States Serena Williams returns to United States Alison Riske in a Women's quarterfinal singles match on day eight of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London Tuesday

Jubilant Simona Halep has fulfilled her mother's dream in reaching her maiden Wimbledon title decider - five years after an ankle injury crushed her hopes in the semi-finals.

Like Strycova, Svitolina never had been to the final four at any Slam.

Williams kept up her 100 per cent record against Navarro with the easiest of victories, dropping just four games in a 6-2, 6-2 win.

With Williams off the scene, Halep made the final at Melbourne Park the following year before finally shedding her tag as the game's best player without a major at the 2018 French Open.

That has left her Grand Slam total at 23, a record for the professional era that she established when she won the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant - but one fewer than Margaret Court accumulated while playing part of her career against amateur competition.

The veteran has been known to lose her temper on court, and can be easily rattled if things aren't going her way, though her power and game sense could prove to be critical when it comes to beating Halep. I respect a lot what she has done and what she's doing.

"I have really nothing to lose". "I've had some big ones", said Williams, whose fastest delivery so far stands at 122mph.

It seemed implausible when Andy Murray was standing courtside at the Australian Open back in January, watching an emotional video of handsome tributes from his peers, that this day would ever come again.


Williams, whose two sets win took her to 200 career sets won at Wimbledon joint second with Chris Evert in the all-time women's list behind Martina Navratilova (249), says that she is in a better frame of mind than she was when she ended up losing in both the Wimbledon and US Open finals a year ago. Serena Williams is guaranteed to rise to her highest post-maternity leave ranking: she will be World No.9 with a loss and World No.8 with a win.

"I just trained and I trained and I trained to get physically more fit".

Awaiting her will be the seventh-seeded Halep, the former world No. 1 whose previous best at the All England Club had been a spot in the semifinals in 2014.

"But now I feel stronger mentally facing her".

She's 37 and a mom, but Serena Williams says she is inspired by other veteran sports stars such as Roger Federer and Tiger Woods as she chases a record-equaling 24th grand slam title.

That style of play serves the Romanian so well at Roland Garros, where she was the runner-up twice in addition to last year's title. Last season's rocky path seems to have ended, with Serena's doubles matches giving her an edge and renewed confidence. "I know I'm improving and I just needed to feel good and then I can do what I do best which is play tennis". Halep had previously beaten teen Wimbledon phenom Coco Gauff in straight sets. Her return to form in the semi-finals against Strycova was astonishing. "Always, to play good at this tournament was my dream", said the 33-year-old Strycova, a Czech player who has been talking about retiring this year.

With Williams serving to take the first set, Strycova managed two break points before the seven-time Wimbledon champion blasted an ace pact Strycova to take Set 1 in just 27 minutes. And if she wins Saturday, she can officially add greatest comeback of all time to her extraordinary resume - even if her fans knew she was there already.

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