London: Simona Halep is the last woman standing between Serena Williams and achieving her long held ambition of equalling Margaret Court’s Grand Slam title record after both recorded easy victories in their Wimbledon semifinals on Thursday.
Seven-time champion Williams made short work of plucky unseeded Czech Barbora Strycova, whose experience of her first ever Grand Slam singles semifinal in her 53rd campaign lasted just under an hour as she lost 6-1, 6-2.
Former world number one Halep’s clash with Ukrainian Elina Svitolina lasted a bit longer but the 27-year-old ran out a 6-1, 6-3 victor to become the first Romanian woman to reach the Wimbledon final.
Williams has missed the chance to equal Australian Court’s record on two occasions since returning from giving birth – losing last year’s Wimbledon final and then a bad-tempered defeat in the US Open final.
“It feels good to be in the final again after the year I have had,” said 37-year-old Williams.
“I have just needed matches to feel good and do what I do best and that is play tennis. I love what I do. I have a great job and I am still pretty good at it. I get a remarkable experience every time,” she added.
Williams produced a dominant performance on Thursday which has not always been the case during the Championships and she said she would not be taking seventh-seeded Halep lightly.
Halep, who was French Open champion in 2018, will be playing in her fifth Grand Slam final.
“It’s an amazing feeling but I am also excited and nervous. It is one of the best moments of my life,” said Halep.
“The match was not easy, the games were long and went deep. I fought hard to win this match and I was strong mentally and physically and had the right tactics,” she added.
Halep, who had knocked out new star, 15-year-old Coco Gauff in the last 16, lost in her previous semifinal appearance at Wimbledon to Eugenie Bouchard in 2014.
However, she said she was a different player now and had taken to grass.
The easy manner in which former world number one Halep wrapped up the match had not looked on the cards at the outset.
Svitolina, the first Ukrainian woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal, and Halep traded shots aplenty and break points in the opening two games. Although Svitolina stayed with Halep for the first part of second set, the self-belief and fight had gone and when the Romanian broke it was game over.