Wil­liams crushes Georges, faces Ker­ber in to­mor­row’s fi­nal

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS - By HOWARD FENDRICH

LON­DON — Yes, this will be Serena Wil­liams’ 10th Wim­ble­don fi­nal. Yes, it’s her 30th ti­tle match at any ma­jor. And, well, sure, she’s widely re­garded as not just the best of her era, but any era.

Let oth­ers shrug at this lat­est ac­com­plish­ment, as if all it sig­ni­fied were merely an­other chance at an­other in a long line of tro­phies. Wil­liams is not shy about say­ing she, for one, is im­pressed by this. Rightly so. For it was only about 10 months ago she was hav­ing a baby and then deal­ing with a se­ri­ous health scare that fol­lowed.

Even af­ter all of that, even af­ter more than a year away from the game, even in only the fourth tour­na­ment of her come­back, Wil­liams showed she’s still ca­pa­ble of dom­i­nance. Es­pe­cially at the All Eng­land Club, where a rel­a­tively rou­tine 6-2, 6-4 vic­tory over 13th-seeded Ju­lia Goerges of Ger­many on Thurs­day put Wil­liams one win away from an eighth cham­pi­onship.

She’s also clos­ing in on her 24th Grand Slam ti­tle, which would equal Mar­garet Court’s all-time record.

“A lot of peo­ple were say­ing, ‘Oh, she should be in the fi­nal,’” the 36-year-old Wil­liams said. “For me it’s such a plea­sure and a joy be­cause, you know, less than a year ago, I was go­ing through so much stuff.”

Af­ter hit­ting five aces with a serve that reached 119 mph, de­liv­er­ing 16 win­ners to only seven un­forced er­rors, and cov­er­ing the court so well with speed and ef­fort, Wil­liams will face an­other Ger­man, 11th-seeded An­gelique Ker­ber, on Satur­day.

“What­ever hap­pens, hon­estly,” Wil­liams said, “it’s an in­cred­i­ble ef- fort from me.”

The left-handed Ker­ber, a for­mer No. 1 and two-time ma­jor cham­pion, beat 12th-seeded Je­lena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-3 ear­lier Thurs­day.

“See­ing her back, it’s great,” said Ker­ber, who has lost six of eight pre­vi­ous matches against Wil­liams. “I know that she is al­ways push­ing you to the lim­its.”

Ker­ber let 2017 French Open cham­pion Ostapenko de­ter­mine the out­come of nearly ev­ery point. By the end, Ostapenko had far more win­ners, 30-10, and far more un­forced er­rors, 36-7.

Wil­liams vs. Ker­ber will be a re­match of the 2016 fi­nal. Wil­liams won that for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive Wim­ble­don ti­tle, then sat out the grass-court tour­na­ment last year while preg­nant, part of a 16-month gap be­tween ma­jors.

Af­ter giv­ing birth to daugh­ter Olympia last Septem­ber, Wil­liams was treated for blood clots.

“I lost count af­ter, like, four surg­eries,” said Wil­liams, who has been wear­ing com­pres­sion leg­gings this fort­night as a pre­cau­tion.

Her first Grand Slam tour­na­ment back was the French Open, where she won three matches be­fore with­draw­ing last month be­cause of an in­jured ch­est mus­cle.

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.

Not even Wil­liams knew. “This is not in­evitable for me. I had a re­ally tough de­liv­ery ... and al­most didn’t make it, to be hon- est,” Wil­liams said. “I re­mem­ber I couldn’t even walk to my mail box, so it’s def­i­nitely not ‘nor­mal’ for me to be in a Wim­ble­don fi­nal.”

The vic­tory over Goerges ex­tended Wil­liams’ win­ning streak at Wim­ble­don to 20 matches, dat­ing to the start of the 2015 edi­tion. She’s also won her past 15 Grand Slam matches since the start of the 2017 Aus­tralian Open, which she won while preg­nant.

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.

Wil­liams’ match against Goerges was even un­til 2-all, 30-all. Un­til then, Goerges, the first seeded player Wil­liams faced these two weeks, showed she was ca­pa­ble of trad­ing power from the base­line and big serves with Wil­liams.

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