Serena Williams dismantled Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-2 on Thursday on Centre Court at Wimbledon. The match lasted just 59 minutes.
The win takes Williams to her 11th Wimbledon final, which she will play on Saturday.
But it’s not just her 11th Wimbledon final, it’s also a chance to earn what she’s been chasing since she returned to competition 16 months ago following the September 2017 birth of her daughter: a 24th major championship.
With that, Serena Williams would tie Margaret Court for the most Grand Slam singles titles in tennis history.
Saturday at Wimbledon, Williams will get another chance at the history-making title.
Standing in her way will be Romania’s Simona Halep — like Williams, a former world No. 1 — who clinched her first spot in a Wimbledon final earlier in the day with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.
Williams, 37, boasts a 9-1 record against Halep, whose lone major title, the 2018 French Open, was won on clay.
But Halep, 27, has declared herself a far different player than she was earlier in her career. Most notably, she has worked to make peace with competing on grass, which demands far different footwork than clay (Halep’s best surface) and rewards power more than steadiness.
Williams is a seven-time Wimbledon champion but arrived at the All England Club this year amid questions about her fitness and preparation. Because of her leg injuries, she had played only 12 matches all year and hadn’t come close to contesting a major.
She lost in the quarterfinals of January’s Australian Open, squandering a 5-1 lead in the final set after rolling an ankle.
Last month at the French Open, ailing with knee pain, she was ousted in the third round by 20-year-old American Sofia Kenin.
But at each round on the grass at Wimbledon, Williams has raised her level. And her serve, and return of serve, remain the best in the women’s game.
Final: Williams wins, 6-1, 6-2
Serena Williams will play for her eighth Wimbledon title after the rout of unseeded Barbora Strycova. Williams, 37, moved within one win of tying Margaret Court’s record of 24 major singles titles.
Williams, the 11th seed, will face No. 7 Simona Halep of Romania in Saturday’s final.
Second set: Williams keeps her lead, 4-2
Williams remains in control in the second set, breaking Strycova’s serve again in the fifth game then converting to take a two-game lead. She’s moving Strycova around side-to-side on that (potentially) tender ankle and frustrating the Czech woman enough that she’s shouted at her box a few times this set. Williams looks to be in cruise control now, and playing as well as — if not better — than we’ve seen all year.
First set: Williams wins, 6-1
Strycova appeared to tweak her right ankle fairly early in the first set, and whether that hampered her play or not, little is going right for the first-time major semifinalist. Strycova had trouble serving and Williams feasted on her slower second serves, needing just 27 minutes to take the first set. The American saved all three break points on her serve and looked confident moving forward; she won 9 of 10 points she played at net.
First set: Williams breaks serve to take a 4-1 edge
Williams broke Strycova’s serve in the fourth game of the first set with an off-balance forehand passing shot. The 23-time major champion was short on match play coming into Wimbledon but those extra mixed doubles matches with Andy Murray appear to have paid off: Williams looks to be moving great in her 12th career semifinal and dictating shots with relative ease.
Halep wins first semifinal
The first player through to Wimbledon’s semifinals is No. 7 seed Simona Halep, the former world No. 1, who defeated Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-3 Thursday.
Halep advances to play either Serena Williams or Barbora Strycova in her fifth career final at a Grand Slam event but first at Wimbledon. The 2018 French Open champion is looking to back up her lone major title.