February 19, 2019

Serena Williams to play for 24th Grand Slam Title in Wimbledon Final

14 July 2018, 09:47 | Anna Jefferson

Ostapenko has spent less time on court en route to the semi-finals Credit AP

Ostapenko has spent less time on court en route to the semi-finals

Stop and let that breathe for a moment.

There was a time, when she was a much younger player, that Serena Williams got upset when she wasn't picked as the favorite to win Wimbledon.

"It's insane. I don't even know how to feel".

"I love playing her", Williams said of Kerber that day. "I nearly didn't make it a few years ago", she said.

Williams is gearing up to clinch her 24th grand slam and probably the sweetest victory of all following the birth of her 10-month-old baby girl Alexis Ohanian. Outside expectations were couched. "This court definitely feels like home", she said.

However, unforced errors were her downfall and particularly costly given Williams' unerring accuracy and solid service games. "She's such a great opponent".

That title pushed her past Steffi Graf's record of 22 majors in the half-century professional era; Court won some of her Slams during the amateur era.

"I'm really proud to be back in a grand slam final". The two faced-off in the 2016 finals, where Williams was victorious.

The physical rigours of playing at this level less than 10 months after giving birth and a surgeries are unimaginable by most, but the mental challenge has been just as daunting.

"Whatever happens, honestly, it's an incredible effort from me and just good motivation to keep going for the rest of our career", Williams said. "It's not frustrating, but it's like, 'C'mon, guys, this is pretty awesome'".

Her once boring news conferences have been livened up by her willingness to talk about being a mum, candid descriptions of her childbirth complications, and being upset at missing her daughter's first steps because she was training.

After withdrawing from her fourth-round match at the French Open with a pectoral injury last month, Williams' serve has been a potent weapon this tournament.

"It's about picking yourself up off the floor", said Jill Smoller, Williams's close friend, confidante and agent of almost 20 years. "Having to deal with pulmonary embolisms is more mentally challenging because if I have a pain in my leg, I automatically go to the worst-case scenario". I didn't know I would have such kind of traumatic thoughts...

All of the time away pushed someone who's spent more than 300 weeks ranked No. 1 down the rankings - she began Wimbledon at 181st, but was seeded 25th on account of her past success - and no one could quite be sure how the American would fare over these two weeks. What Federer did at the Australian Open - you prove to yourself you can win the biggest tournament in the world, or one of the biggest, and then you know you can do it again. "That shows that she has a lot of respect for me, really going for her shots".

The American faces Angelique Kerber on Saturday in a repeat of the 2016 showdown, which she won.

We can not just see the player is in the final dropping only one set in an open field. But this is different. "These are the matches I was working for since I was a kid". Kerber lost their last matchup two years ago in the final and will want revenge. "Doing a plank was near impossible at the start but I'm getting better now". I was limiting myself.

It is not just the fact umpires address her as "Mrs Williams" that marks the fact things have changed for the former world number one. "I want to get as many as I can, starting with".

Agassi believes she can go all the way and make one massive leap over the finish line. "I still have a match to win, so I'm not even there yet". "I can't even describe it".

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