Serena Williams will get yet another opportunity to match Margaret Court’s 24 grand slam titles on Saturday, taking on Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final. It would also be her eighth Wimbledon title, one off the record of Martina Navratilova in the open era. Serena had two opportunities previously to hit No.24 but lost to Angelique Kerber at last year’s event and Naomi Osaka at the US Open. Check out the Halep vs Serena Williams stats
Serena came into the tournament with fitness concerns and didn’t do much to dispel those fears with below par performances in the first two rounds. A perfect matchup against Julia Goerges in round three and further match play in the mixed doubles with Andy Murray look to have lit a spark under her as the second week went on. She picked up a gritty win against Alison Riske in the quarter finals before overwhelming Barbora Strycova 6-1 6-2 in the semi finals. While she was nowhere near matching the 19 aces against Riske, the serve was still supreme in the match against the Czech – where she lost just three points on first serve. “Now I’m in a different place,” Serena said afterwards. “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.”
Despite being a grand slam champion and former No.1 player, there wasn’t much hype when it came to Halep’s chances two weeks ago. The Romanian, a one time semi finalist, lost in the opening week last year and was often considered vulnerable against the bigger hitters on grass in the past. The slower conditions and a favourable draw have worked in her favour this fortnight, being capped off with a strong performance against Elina Svitolina in the semi finals. She was all over the Ukranian’s serve in the 6-1 6-3 victory, breaking five times overall. “I play some dropshots, I use the slice more, the serve is helping me,” Halep said on her tactics here. “Now when the ball is coming to me, now I know what to do with it. Here this week I realized that I have a good chance on grass because I have strong legs, I can open the court, the court works for me if I play the right tactic.”
The 9-1 head to head is definitely going to be in Halep’s mind as she heads into this final but her French Open title has relieved some of the pressure the Romanian puts on herself in big situations. Whether it is enough for her to overcome a Serena destined to make history is doubtful though. Halep will undoubtedly be able to keep Serena on the move, something that will be vital if she is to have any chance of a victory here.
“I think the biggest key with our matches is the loss that I had. 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.” Serena said, referencing the 2015 WTA Finals 6-0 6-2 loss to Halep. She avenged that loss in the final as a run of five straight wins but many of them have been tough. The most recent came at the Australian Open, where the American edged it 6-4 in the third set.
Prediction – Serena Williams in straight sets