Serena, Halep roll, advance to Wimbledon final
- John Matiesen
Serena Williams will play in the Wimbledon final for the 11th time and will be looking for her eighth title at the All England Club. Simona Halep will play in her first Wimbledon final.
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, beat Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-2 on Thursday in the semifinals on Centre Court, while Halep defeated Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-3.
"I look forward to it,'' said Williams, who owns a 9-1 career record against Halep.
The 37-year-old American converted four of her five break points in reaching Saturday's final, while Strycova failed on all three of her chances.
The 11th-seeded American, who lost in last year's final, needs one more major title to equal the all-time record of 24 set by Margaret Court.
"I'm desperate to win Wimbledon more than to stop her," Halep said. "I will focus on myself. I'm not thinking about her record."
It's been an up-and-down year for Williams because of illness and injury, limiting her 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.
Halep, 27, broke the 24-year-old Svitolina three times in the first set and then again to take a 4-3 lead in the second. She won the match with another break in the final game.
"It was not [as] easy as the score shows,'' said the seventh-seeded Halep, who had a 26-10 edge in winners.
The Romanian won the French Open last year and has reached the final at Roland Garros on two other occasions. She also reached the Australian Open final in 2018, but her previous best at the All England Club had been a spot in the semifinals in 2014.
"It's an amazing feeling and I'm really excited -- and also nervous because of this,'' Halep said. "It's one of the best moments of my life."
Svitolina, the No. 8 seed, had never been to the final four at any Slam before this tournament.