SUPER MUM SER­ENA SHARP AS EVER

Amer­i­can makes short work of Ju­lia to reach Wim­ble­don fi­nal

New Straits Times - - SPORT -

SER­ENA Wil­liams demon­strated that hav­ing a baby had not robbed her of any of her phe­nom­e­nal ten­nis skills when she be­came the first mother in 38 years to reach the Wim­ble­don fi­nal, with a 6-2, 6-4 de­mo­li­tion of Ger­many’s Ju­lia Go­erges on Thurs­day.

Ju­lia had come into her first Grand Slam semi-fi­nal hav­ing belted more win­ners (199), more aces (44) and more un­re­turned serves (113) than any­one else in the women’s draw but those sta­tis­tics counted for lit­tle when she came up against an op­po­nent who is in hot pur­suit of a record­e­qualling 24th ma­jor.

Re­mark­ably, the 36-year-old was back in a Grand Slam fi­nal just 10 months af­ter giv­ing birth to her daugh­ter Alexis Olympia.

“It’s crazy. I don’t even know how to feel be­cause I lit­er­ally didn’t think I’d do this well in my fourth tour­na­ment back in 16 months,” said the Amer­i­can, who won the 2017 Aus­tralian Open while in the early stages of her preg­nancy.

“When I don’t have any­thing to lose, I can just play so free and that’s what I’m do­ing.

“This is not in­evitable for me, I had a re­ally tough de­liv­ery and mul­ti­ple surg­eries and al­most didn’t make it to be hon­est. I couldn’t even walk to my mailbox, so it’s def­i­nitely not nor­mal for me to be in a Wim­ble­don fi­nal. “I’m en­joy­ing every mo­ment.” That en­joy­ment was clear to see as she dashed Ju­lia’s hopes of set­ting up an all-Ger­man fi­nal with An­gelique Ker­ber in 70 un­for­giv­ing min­utes.

The 13th seed had never taken a set off Ser­ena in three pre­vi­ous meet­ings and un­for­tu­nately for her, the Amer­i­can was once again at her dom­i­nant best on Thurs­day as she blud­geoned down five aces and 16 win­ners to fin­ish off Ju­lia.

In both sets Ju­lia was bro­ken in the sixth game, sur­ren­der­ing each with an er­ror on break point.

She did fight back to break Ser­ena when the Amer­i­can, seeded 25th de­spite her laugh­able rank­ing of 181st, was serv­ing for the match at 5-3 up in the sec­ond.

How­ever, Ju­lia sim­ply did not have the fire­power or be­lief to stop the seven-times cham­pion, who had hoisted the Venus Rose­wa­ter Dish on her two pre­vi­ous ap­pear­ances in 2015 and 2016, from surg­ing to a 20th suc­ces­sive Wim­ble­don win.

A ju­bi­lant Ser­ena was back giv­ing the crowd a one-arm raised vic­tory twirl af­ter reach­ing a 10th Wim­ble­don fi­nal when her op­po­nent swiped a lob be­hind the base­line.

Ser­ena is the low­est ranked player to reach the women’s fi­nal but that num­ber will fool no one, and es­pe­cially not An­gelique who was run­ner-up to the Amer­i­can in the 2016 fi­nal.

For 29-year-old Ju­lia, Thurs­day’s out­ing was not com­pletely a lost cause be­cause de­spite the maul­ing, she had fi­nally made it to a semi-fi­nal at one of the four ma­jors — al­beit on her 42nd at­tempt.

“Ser­ena is the one who you want to play, who you want to get the ex­pe­ri­ence from,” said the Ger­man, whose pre­vi­ous five vis­its to the All Eng­land Club had ended in first-round de­feats.

“She knew how to win that match by her ex­pe­ri­ence, and ... I had no ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Right now I’m sit­ting here at a semi-fi­nal of Wim­ble­don where a lot of peo­ple are dream­ing of. That’s some­thing to be pos­i­tive about to­day.”

Ser­ena Wil­liams

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