LONDON – Serena Williams will take on Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final on Saturday.
Both players advanced to the ultimate round on Thursday after beating Barbora Strycova and Elina Svitolina, respectively.
Williams leads the 27-year-old Romanian 9-1 in their head-to-head matches.
The 37-year-old is seeking her eighth Wimbledon women’s singles title.
She prevailed 6-1, 6-2 over her Czech rival in 59 minutes, while Halep overwhelmed the Ukrainian player Svitolina 6-1, 6-3 after an hour and 13 minutes of play, earlier in the day.
“It feels good to be back in the final. I just needed some matches. Every match I’m improving,” Williams said.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner added: “Now I’m feeling good, I can do what I do best, and that’s playing tennis.”
She managed to set the breaks on Strycova, who up until Thursday was having a great tournament and was expected to be a dangerous opponent.
On her way to her first ever semifinal, the 33-year-old defeated fourth-ranked Kiki Bertens and Elise Mertens in the third round and the round of 16.
Strycova was able to hold on her service in the early going of the first set but then Williams won all of the remaining games to seal a 6-1 first-set win.
She tried again in the second set, gaining her service games twice this time (1-2).
Williams won six games in a row to finish off her rival (6-2) and qualify for the title match.
The American extended her record against Strycova to 4-0, having also won their three previous matches, in the 2012 Australian Open, 2012 Wimbledon and 2017 Australian Open.
She also earned her 98th victory and 11th appearance in the final at the grass-court major.
The 2019 Wimbledon final is expected to be a tough encounter for both players, as Williams is hunting for a 24th record-tying Grand Slam title, which would put her equal with tennis legend Margaret Court.
“We always have tough matches. I look forward to it,” Williams said about the clash.
Since winning her 23rd major title in the 2017 Australian Open, when she was two months pregnant, she has had five opportunities to equal Court’s record.
After returning from maternity leave, she fell short at the French Open round of 16, the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018 and did not get past the Australian Open quarterfinals and the French Open third round in 2019.
Halep, meanwhile, is experiencing good momentum after reaching her first Wimbledon final.
The upcoming match will be the first time she has got past the round of 16 of a Grand Slam since she won last year’s Roland Garros trophy in June 2018, her lone major title.