Wimbledon finals are known for historical occasions, and if the market is right, Serena Williams will win an eighth Wimbledon title and draw level with Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams when she takes on Simona Halep in Saturday’s Ladies’ Final. Williams, who is 1/2 to reach the record, swept aside Barbora Strycova 6-1 6-2 in the semi-finals, when she was so dominant she took just an hour to win.
Williams’ route here has been mostly straightforward bar a couple of scares. Wins in straight sets against Giulia Gatto-Monticone (6-4, 7-5), Julia Georges (6-3, 6-4), and Carla Suarez Navarro (6-2-, 6-2) were accompanied by a second-round scare against Kaja Juvan (2-6 6-2 6-4) and a tough test in her quarter-final against Alison Riske, when she was a break down in the deciding set but fought back to win 6-4 4-6 6-3.
Halep has had a similar route. She dismissed Aliaksandra Sasnovich (6-4 7-5) before she had to work harder to get past Mihaela Buzarnescu (6-3,4-6, 6-2), but she has not dropped a set since in victories over Victoria Azarenka (6-3, 6-1), Cori Gauff (6-3, 6-3), Shuai Zhang (7-6, 6-1), and a semi-final destruction of Barbora Strycova (6-1, 6-3).
It is understandable that Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner and 32-time Grand Slam finalist who holds a 9-1 advantage in their head to head, is the strong favourite here but she was odds on to win last year when beaten by Angelique Kerber in straight sets. Kerber is a speedy counter puncher who used superior movement around the court to overcome Williams’ power game, and she forced Williams into 12 errors when she came forward from the baseline, along with 24 unforced errors in the match, despite the fact that Williams hit 23 winners to the German’s 11.
Halep has a similar set of qualities and has made 31 break points in the tournament through her hard running game so far, something which should encourage her to take the same game against Williams. Halep has also broken the most serves out of the semi-finalists in the women’s tournament, and she can give herself a chance if she stays strong on her first serve and moves Williams through to the corners.
The Championships, Wimbledon
Ladies’ Singles Final
2pm BBC 1
Past Women’s Wimbledon Finals
2018 Angelique Kerber (Germany) Serena Williams (USA) 6–3, 6–3
2017 Garbiñe Muguruza (Spain) Venus Williams (USA) 7–5, 6–0
2016 Serena Williams (USA) Angelique Kerber (Germany) 7–5, 6–3
2015 Serena Williams (USA) Garbiñe Muguruza (Spain) 6-4, 6-4
2014 Petra Kvitová (Czech Republic) Eugenie Bouchard (Canada) 6–3, 6–0
2013 Marion Bartoli (France) Sabine Lisicki (Germany) 6-1, 6-4
2012 Serena Williams (USA) Agnieszka Radwańska (Poland) 6–1, 5–7, 6–2
2011 Petra Kvitová (Czech Republic) Maria Sharapova (Russia) 6-3, 6-4
2010 Serena Williams (USA) Vera Zvonareva (Russia) 6-3, 6-2
Williams is likely to be in better shape than she was last year – she was playing in only her fourth tournament since giving birth a year ago – but she was fully recovered when once again beaten at odds on when losing in straight sets to Naomi Osaka in a now infamous US Open final performance. On that occasion she accused the umpire of being a “thief” and was also docked points for smashing a racket, and there is an air of vulnerability around the favourite, who has the extraordinary pressure of matching Margaret Court’s record of slams on her shoulders.
Williams has gone three sets twice during the tournament, including against Alison Riske – fresh from beating the World Number 1 Ashleigh Barty – and Halep, if standing up to her first serve, looks good enough to make this more than a power battle, which could mean a longer than expected final.
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