July 12, 2018
Lucky spectators on Centre Court on Saturday could see Serena Williams make history.
Will this be the day Serena wins her 24th Slam, to equal the all-time record of Margaret Court?
The American’s supreme performance for her 6-2, 6-4 win against Julia Goerges says yes.
Serena is of course cautious in her analysis, especially since some claim that her victory is inevitable, despite the trouble she had giving birth and getting back to form not so long ago.
She said: ‘It’s crazy. This is not inevitable for me. I had a really tough delivery and multiple surgeries.
‘I played Angelique Kerber in the final here in 2016 and she is a really good grass court player.’
Kerber will have to play out of her skin to win, though. Goerges played well in the semi-final, hit some great winners, yet still wasn’t good enough to trouble Williams for long.
That’s how good Serena’s uncanny anticipation of almost everything that came her way was, when it really mattered.
All this suggests that history will indeed be made this weekend, and Serena will land yet another Wimbledon title to reach 24 Slams in total.
Let’s face it, Court’s impressive record belongs to another sporting world, not just another era.
Serena is far more aggressive and athletic than Court ever was. Most people would say Williams is already the greatest of all time.
But statistics must be respected, and Serena knows that the record books won’t tell the right story until she has won 24 and maybe even 25 Slams.
The fact that we are even speaking of such things so soon after Serena’s maternity leave is extraordinary.
But then so was the way she subdued the dangerous Goerges, whose strong serve and brave strokeplay threatened to unsettle Williams early on.
In the end it was Serena who broke twice to win the first set emphatically and allow the scoreline to make it sound so much easier than it had been.
There was a blip when she served for the match at 5-3, saw the finishing line, tightened and was suddenly broken thanks to a bludgeoning forehand.
But Williams wasn’t going to let this one slip away, not with history beckoning. The attempted comeback was soon thwarted, largely by Julia’s own nervous serving, and there was only going to be one winner.
Can Serena do the same to her German opponent on Saturday, in a repeat of that 2016 final?
Angelique Kerber had few problems against Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, who hit wildly with varying degrees if success.
The fact that Ostapenko made 19 unforced errors in the first set alone, against Kerber’s two, told its own story.
Sure, her 18 winners were spectacular, but the six achieved by Kerber were enough to maintain control when added to her more mature approach.
In the second set Ostapenko was 1-5 down before breaking back to make matters more respectable.
And although Jelena relaxed and belatedly played some good tennis, Kerber’s composure and precision earned her a 6-3, 6-3 victory.
Angelique admitted: ‘It is such a great feeling to be back in the final and it’s always a great experience to play on Centre Court. I’m just going to play as I have been doing and focus on my own game.’
That may not prove to be enough against a giant of our sport like Serena Williams. But anything can happen.