Serena Williams closes in on record Wimbledon crown

United States Serena Williams returns to United States Alison Riske in a Women's quarterfinal singles match on day eight of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London Tuesday

The Romanian has beaten Williams just once in their previous 10 meetings but insisted her record against the 23-time Grand Slam victor was not cause for concern.

Williams is now competing at Wimbledon.

The image of indifference that Serena Williams has been carefully constructing around the prospect of moving to a record-equalling 24 Grand Slam singles titles was summarily undressed as a ruse on the eve of this final with Simona Halep - by the person who has guided her to this point.

There are, of course, many reasons why Serena Williams has been as successful as she's been, for as long as she's been.

The 27-year-old has done her mother Tania particularly proud.

"She played unbelievable today", Svitolina said. I'm really excite and also nervous to be in the final. 'She is happy. She has a house here, her husband is here. Halep won the French Open past year and is trying to reach her fifth major final.

The runaway was on: Williams seized seven points in a row and 16 of 20 to close out that set.

"She's tough", Williams said in the post-match interview, acknowledging her strong performance against Svitolina earlier Thursday and noting they "always have tough matches" when they face each other.

- Serena defeats two-time defending champion and sister Venus to win her first Wimbledon singles title.

If it's going to help to have a reminder that Halep is capable of beating her because she DID beat her once, why not focus on THAT?

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The 27-year-old Halep's only victory over Williams was nearly five years ago, while the American has won all three of their Grand Slam clashes, including at Wimbledon in 2011.

While her comeback journey seemed to dominate the narrative surrounding her in 2018 as she made two Grand Slam finals, it feels like we're back to taking for granted that she'll have deep runs in major tournaments - even though we're still waiting for her next victory.

The 33-year-old Strycova had been pondering retirement this year but now is the oldest first-time major semifinalist in the professional era.

However, she said she was a different player now and had taken to grass. Her return to form in the semi-finals against Strycova was astonishing.

But, as she's repeatedly said, she loves the game and the pressure that comes with it.

Although Svitolina stayed with Halep for the first part of the second set, the self-belief and fight had gone and when the Romanian broke for 4-3 it was game over. She converted four of her five break points, while Strycova failed on all three of her chances.

"Looking back, to even be in those two finals past year was unbelievable", she said.

The former No. 1 never had that kind of success at Wimbledon until now. So was her body language, including when Halep looked up at her coach, yelled and extended an arm in the first set's final game. Other than that, you have to go back to the 2009 US Open when Juan Martín Del Potro upset the odds against Federer.

Last year's losing finalist needed just 59 minutes to bypass Strycova, using her incredibly dominant serve to deny her opponent a foundation from which to mount a challenge of her own.

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