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Serena Williams will play Simona Halep in Wimbledon final

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Serena Williams defeated Barbora Strycova during a semifinal match Thursday at Wimbledon.
(Alastair Grant / AFP/Getty Images)

The opponents of Serena Williams and Simona Halep didn’t offer much resistance Thursday in their women’s semifinal matches.

The foes won a combined seven games.

That’s run-the-table tennis for Williams and Halep — in a Grand Slam semifinal, no less — and proof that it’s the two best players at the moment who will meet in Saturday’s final. Barbora Strycova and Elina Svitolina didn’t stand a chance.

Halep routed Svitolina 6-1, 6-3, followed by Williams brushing aside Strycova 6-1, 6-2 in a breezy 59 minutes.

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Williams, who lost in last year’s final, has won 23 major championships and needs one more to match the all-time record set by Margaret Court.

“It’s really not about 24 or 23 or 25,” Williams said. “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.”

Williams is the oldest woman in the Open era to reach a Grand Slam final, at 37 years and 290 days. Martina Navratilova set the record by reaching a slam final at 37 years, 258 days.

“Technology has really changed; that’s the only reason I’m able to compete,” Williams said. “I feel like if we had this technology 20 years ago, maybe Michael Jordan would still be playing basketball. I just feel like we know so much more about our bodies.

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“Things I do different now than when I first was on tour, it’s lengthening my career. It’s not just me, it’s Roger [Federer], Tom Brady, Peyton [Manning] played forever. There are so many athletes now that are able to do better and play longer, even play some of their best way after their 30s.

“Those athletes, Tiger [Woods] obviously, what he did at the Masters, was on top of my mind. Those athletes are incredibly inspiring. That’s one thing that keeps me moving forward.”

Williams has won her last 11 Wimbledon semifinal matches. She hasn’t lost one since falling to her sister, Venus, in 2000.

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That said, it has been far from a smooth ride for Williams of late. Illness and injury curtailed her play this year, and she was limited to 12 matches heading into Wimbledon. Last month, she stayed in France for medical treatment after a third-round loss at the French Open.

“I’m just now starting to use my legs again,” said Williams, who leads the tournament with 45 aces. “Well, two weeks ago in the tournament. Then I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I forgot about my serve.’ It was kind of back. It felt good.

“It’s really just about rediscovering my technique on my serve, how I use my body, how I use every part of it, just really know that I can still improve.”

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Romania’s Simona Halep competes against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina at Wimbledon on Thursday.
(Will Oliver / AFP/Getty Images)
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With surprising ease and brevity, Angelique Kerber dispatched Williams in last year’s final, 6-3, 6-3.

“I just remember I was tired and Angie played unbelievable,” said Williams, who was recovering from a difficult childbirth at the time. “I actually was sad but I was also proud of myself. There was nothing I could do in that match. I did everything I could. Physically I just wasn’t there.”

Halep, the 2018 French Open champion who ended last year as the world No. 1 for the second time in her career, is 1-9 against Williams lifetime and has lost their last five meetings.

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Still, Halep is confident this year will be different.

“I have played many matches against her. Many of them were very close,” she said.

“I have learned that I have a chance. Now I believe that I have my chance to win against her. Of course, I respect what she has done and what she’s doing. But now I feel stronger mentally facing her. We will see what is going to happen. It’s just a big challenge for me.”


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