Serena Williams will become the oldest Grand Slam women’s finalist when she steps out on Centre Court on Saturday afternoon alongside Simona Halep. The 37-year-old has been there and done it all in the tennis world but her desire remains as strong as ever as she eyes an eighth Venus Rosewater Dish.
This will be the American’s 10th appearance in a women’s Wimbledon singles final and she will be desperate to go one better than last year when she lost to Angelique Kerber in straight sets. Another final victory will see her match Australian Margaret Court‘s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, while it will be her first ‘Slam triumph since she became a mother in 2017.
She is the 20/39 favourite for the win but heads into the showpiece clash after losing her last two Grand Slam finals. This year has been stop-start for the world No.10, who hadn’t made it beyond the quarter-finals at one of the big four events before her run at the All England Club.
She hasn’t always been at the top of her game at SW19 in the last fortnight, dropping sets to Alison Riske and Kaja Juvan before producing her best match of Wimbledon so far when annihilating Barbora Strycova in less than an hour in the semi-finals.
She also has an excellent record against final opponent Halep, winning nine of their 10 encounters, including at this year’s Australian Open where she triumphed in three sets.
Halep is gearing up for her first appearance in a Wimbledon final, having not made it beyond the last-four in south-west London previously, and is the 33/20 underdog. The Romanian’s career had been a case of filling the role of bridesmaid before she snapped her Grand Slam duck by winning the French Open in 2018.
The world no.7 has had the tougher route through to the final, defeating two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka, teenage sensation Cori Gauff and Elina Svitolina to reach Saturday’s clash.
Halep has spoken about being “mentally stronger” since winning her first Grand Slam but, up against her nemesis Williams, she can’t be relied on to finish the job. She is good enough to take a set off Williams but, beyond that, it is tricky to see Halep coming out on top.
Halep has only dropped one set for far and her first-serve percentage has improved as she has progressed, keeping it in the 70s in her last two matches.
With Williams’ biggest strength on grass still being her serve – winning 24 of 27 first-serve points against Strycova – breaks could be hard to come by and the overs on 21.5 games appeals.