Serena Williams romps to straight-sets victory over Barbora Strycova in just 59 minutes to book spot in her ELEVENTH Wimbledon singles final and set up Simona Halep showdown
- Serena Williams booked a spot in Wimbledon final by beating Barbora Strycova
- The American romped home in straight sets, winning 6-1, 6-2 against the Czech
- Williams will face the No 7 seed Simona Halep in her eleventh Wimbledon final
She tried to slice, she tried to lob, she tried one hand, two hands, drops and bashes, baseline and net. Poor old Barbora Strycova, she brought a Swiss army knife into a fight against a woman holding an axe.
At times that axe has looked a little heavy in those ageing arms. At times it has been necessary to wonder if the old warrior could still go the distance in a big one. They are doubts that have been raised regularly across the course the past fortnight.
But what a silly thing to do, wagering against Serena Williams, the 37-year-old who once more has powered herself to the doorway of history. One more win will do it. One more win to tie Margaret Court as the greatest of all on 24 Slams.
Serena Williams lets out a great cheer as she celebrates booking her place in Wimbledon final
She has been on that ledge for more than two years, a period which has taken a pregnancy, a life-threatening birth, a year of maternity leave and two Slam finals that went horribly wrong. Now she has a third swing against Simona Halep and if Strycova can offer her any advice, anything at all from this walloping, it is that Williams is up to speed.
That has been the mystery throughout her run to being the oldest Slam finalist in the Open era. Having only played 12 matches in the entirety of her season before getting to London because of knee problems, she reckoned each match here needed to be worth five to 10 for its value in acquiring match fitness. On the evidence of her annihilation of Strycova, who had beaten Jo Konta in the quarter-finals, she is there. There and punching hard.
To think, there was a muted suggestion that the Czech, with all the idiosyncrasies and quirks of her game, might throw Williams off balance. That she might test the movement and footwork which has long looked like a vulnerability. What she got was a 59-minute storm, with Williams breaking twice in each set. The American never so much as faced a single break point, and in return hit 28 winners and only 10 unforced errors. It was easily her finest performance of the Championships.
When she was done, the talk turned to Halep and the number 24. Williams makes a big play of feeling little pressure now she is ‘past older’, and claims that when the thought of making history popped into her head prior to her semi-final, it popped back out again.
‘I thought about it (24 Slams) this morning and I actually didn’t think about it since because it’s really not about 24 or 23 or 25,’ she said. ‘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.
Strycova desperately stretches her arms out to try and return the ball from deep
Williams pictured hitting a fierce forehand during her semi-final against Strycova
‘I don’t know what brought it on and why I thought about it. I never usually think about it. I guess I was trying to tap into that younger Serena, trying to tap into how to win basically.
‘But I feel really calm about it.’
Whether folk buy that this intense competitor is indifferent to her biggest potential milestone yet is down to the individual. Most will not. Strycova certainly won’t.
If Williams is to pull it off, she has been quick to send some of the credit to Britain, claiming that mixed doubles with Andy Murray is one of the reasons why her volleying has suddenly become a major weapon in the second week here.
A packed-out crowd on centre court watch on from the stands as Williams returns to Strycova
She said: ‘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. ‘I kept telling you guys I thought the doubles would help me. I really think it did.
‘I don’t attack the net that much. I tried to and I want to. I really feel like it helped me, not just for today and this event, but hopefully it will help me just in the future.’
A kind play to the native audience, perhaps. Or maybe there is something in it. At the very least, there is no denying that the old slugger in Serena Williams has found her strength and stride at just the right time.