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Serena Set For Wimbledon’s 2019 Ladies Championship Finals

By Alix Ramsay


Serena Williams was in contemplative mood. She had been thinking. This was a rare occurrence.


That is not to say that Serena does not think at all, but the introspective bit on the morning of a Wimbledon semi-final was new.


Ask any mum of a toddler if they have time to look into their inner selves during the dressing-breakfast-changing- clothes-of-toddler-now-that- boiled-egg-has-been-spilled- down-their-front daily rituals and they will probably say no. Add in the fact that said mum has to prepare for a big match and it seems quite surprising that the 23-time grand slam champion could find the time – not to mention the peace and quiet – for a bit of a ponder.


Anyway, the upshot of this soul searching was that Serena was feeling calm. At peace. Untroubled and unflustered. And that really was new.


For all her success and all her experience, Serena does get the jitters; she gets them big time. It has cost her titles in the past and the thought that she could, by close of play of Thursday, be one match away from her record-equalling 24th grand slam trophy could have caused blind panic before she faced Barbora Strycova. But it didn’t. And she won 6-1, 6-2.


She moved well, she played well and she absolutely flattened her Czech rival.


“I thought about it this morning,” Serena explained. “I actually didn’t think about it since because it’s really not about 24 or 23 or 25. It’s really just about going out there and giving my best effort no matter what. No matter what I do, I will always have a great career.


“I don’t know. Like, I just kind of let it go this morning. Yeah, I feel really calm about it.”


And Serena feeling calm, as she did against Strycova, is a fearsome foe. Her progress through the draw has been remarkable. From an almost standing start, she has improved with every round and now she only has Simona Halep to beat and Margaret Court’s tally of titles will have been matched.

Serena Williams of the USA celebrates winning against Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic during their semi final match for the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 11 July 2019. EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO COMMERCIAL SALES

Still, there is very little “only” about Halep. The world No.7 has now reached the final of three of the four slams and done so on three different surfaces. Saturday will be her fifth grand slam final in all (she won her only title at Roland Garros last year).


Serena describes Halep as a “little powerhouse” but she has beaten that powerhouse nine times out of 10. She knows as well as anyone that the result on Saturday is more about her than it is about the Romanian. Halep she can beat; her nerves she is still working on.


“I was actually thinking this morning, when I won my first Wimbledon,” she said, returning to that early morning think. “I think it was against Venus. I was trying to tap into those emotions. I was really calm. I remember I think I hit an ace. I just remember, like, how it’s so, so different when you’re younger as opposed to now. Now I just need to relax and do what I can do.


“I never usually think about it. Two of the questions that you all asked, I literally was thinking about those things this morning. Just trying to tap into that younger Serena, trying to tap into how to win basically.”


What she does know is that her knee doesn’t hurt any more. That means she can play freely. All she has to do now is play as freely as when she was winning those other 23 big finals and all will be well. Breathe, then, Serena, breathe.


“I definitely feel like I play better when I’m calm,” she said. “But it’s definitely an effort. Not getting over-pumped, but at the same time not getting under-wound. I have to be in that right space.


“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.”


The signs are promising, then. Well, sort of promising. Thursday was a good day. Serena is not promising the same will the case on Saturday. She’s not daft.


“I was calm today,” she said with a knowing laugh. “It’s a day-to-day basis with me. We all know that.”


But if she is calm before the final? Who knows what she could achieve. Maybe she should make time another wee think on Saturday morning.

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