Halep stands between Serena and Court landmark

Serena Williams

Seven-time champion Williams made short work of plucky unseeded Czech Barbora Strycova, whose experience of her first ever Grand Slams singles semi-final in her 53rd campaign lasted just under an hour as she lost 6-1, 6-2. Nothing was going to help her slow down Williams on this afternoon, and the match was over after 59 minutes.

After a three-set struggle against Alison Riske in the quarterfinals Tuesday, Williams was dominant against Strycova, who was limited by a leg muscle problem that cropped up in the very first game. Serena Williams is guaranteed to rise to her highest post-maternity leave ranking: she will be World No.9 with a loss and World No.8 with a win.

After all that, it will be a surprise - not on the scale of her defeat by Vinci in NY - if Williams does not stand in the middle of Centre Court as the freshly crowned queen of Wimbledon, and the game itself.

From that point, the match appeared little more than a formality, but one suspects that Halep's relentless pace will provide more of a challenge to the American as she attempts to carve out her own piece of history on Saturday.

The amiable Romanian won her maiden grand slam title at the French Open previous year and says keeping her cool has been key to her success. At the Australian Open this year, and only 29, she went out in the first round of qualifying, for the third time on the spin at a slam.

On Saturday, she will take on No. 7-seeded Simona Halep of Romania, a 6-1, 6-3 victor over No. 8 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine under a cloudy sky at Centre Court. "It is exciting and I am looking forward to it already".

A cross-court forehand passing shot delivered the break for Williams, and Strycova bent over again, one of the initial signs that she was dealing with something physical.

"In the last match you could see that she has been able to raise her level when it was necessary, which is one of her trademarks and this is back so everything is positive".

Her return to form in the semi-finals against Strycova was astonishing.

Five of the first 11 points lasted at least 10 strokes; two went 23.

Although Svitolina stayed with Halep for the first part of the second set, the self-belief and fight had gone and when the Romanian broke for 4-3 it was game over. She said in a first-person essay she wrote for Harper's Bazaar that she met with a therapist and wrote to Osaka to apologize for the whole episode. Then she pulled out of matches or missed tournaments entirely because of an illness or a bad left knee. Or that Williams soundly beat Halep later at that same tournament. Halep has never played in a Wimbledon final.

"Instead of having nothing to lose, I feel like I have things to lose, but I also have nothing to lose. That's what we're going to do". I feel like she's back.

"I remember after that, I just trained and I trained and I trained to get physically more fit".

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