Wimbledon women's final to be a royal affair
SENERA Williams's place among the legends of tennis is assured but her mission will not be accomplished unless she at least equals Margaret Court's record haul of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
The 37-year-old American gets a third chance in a year to go level with the Australian legend when she plays another former world No.1, Simona Halep, in the Wimbledon final on Saturday night (AEST).
Aside from the one-on-one rivalry on court, both women have a member of the royal family rooting for them - Williams's friend Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Halep favouring Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.
Williams will hope for a happier ending after eing outplayed by Angelique Kerber in last year's Wimbledon final and Naomi Osaka in the US Open final, where a spectacular meltdown torpedoed the American's cause and led her to eventually consult a therapist.
Halep, the first Romanian woman to play in the Wimbledon final, has the weaponry to upset Williams.
However, she will want her serve to be more reliable than it was in the early stages of her ultimately easy semi-final win over Elina Svitolina.
The 27-year-old has won just one of the four Grand Slam finals in which she has appeared - last year's French Open.
HOW TO WATCH
Williams and Halep square off at 10.45pm (AEST) on Saturday night, with Seven's coverage starting on 7mate in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth before switching to 7.
Seven's commentary team includes John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin and Tim Henman.
Sydney - 10.45pm on 7mate, 11.15pm on Channel 7; Melbourne - 10.45pm on Channel 7; Brisbane - 10.45pm on 7mate, 11.15pm on Channel 7; Adelaide - 10.15pm on Channel 7; Perth - 8.45pm on 7mate, 11.15pm on Channel 7.
HEAD TO HEAD
Williams has won nine of the 10 matches the pair have played, including all three times in grand slams (2019 Australian Open round of 16 - 6-1 4-6 6-4; 2016 US Open quarterfinal 6-2 4-6 6-3; 2011 Wimbledon second round 3-6 6-2 6-1).
PATH TO THE FINAL
Both players benefited from a number of early exits by top players in the women's draw. Williams only faced two seeds - Julia Goerges (18) and Carla Suarez Navarro (30) - while Halep only played one - Elina Svitolina (8).
Williams - First round: Giulia Gatto Monticone (ITA) 6-2 7-5; Second round: Kaja Juvan (SLO) 2-6 6-2 6-4; Third round: Julia Goerges (GER) 6-3 6-4; Round of 16: Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) 6-2 6-2; Quartefinal: Alison Riske (USA) 6-4 4-6 6-3; semi-final: Barbora Strycova (CZE) 6-1 6-2.
Halep - First round: Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 6-4 7-5; Second round: Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROM) 6-3 4-6 6-2; Third round: Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 6-3 6-1; Round of 16: Coco Gauff (USA) 6-3 6-3; Quartefinal: Zhang Shuai (CHN) 7-6 (7/4) 6-1; semi-final: Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-1 6-3.
WILLIAMS AT WIMBLEDON
Williams is gunning for her eighth Wimbledon crown, which would take her past German great Steffi Graf and behind only nine-time champion Navratilova. Here's a look at her seven previous wins:
2002 vs Venus Williams (USA) - 7-6 (7/4) 6-3
Serena defeats two-time defending champion and sister Venus to win her first Wimbledon singles title. Serena also claims the world No.1 ranking for the first time, adding the All England Club crown to her win the previous month at the French Open.
2003 vs Venus Williams (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-2
Serena clinches her second straight Wimbledon crown with victory coming in the wake of her defeat to Justine Henin in the Roland Garros semi-finals. Venus struggled with an abdominal and thigh injury that affected her serve and movement as the final went on. "She's tougher than I ever thought she was," said Serena. "I knew she was tough but she's gone on to a whole different level. To play today knowing she was injured, she's definitely up there with the real fighters and champions."
2009 vs Venus Williams 7-6 (7/3) 6-2
Serena again defeats her sister, the two-time defending champion. It is her third Wimbledon singles title and 11th Grand Slam singles trophy overall. She takes victory after having saved a match point against Elena Dementieva in the semi-finals. Venus was attempting to become the first player to win the women's singles title for three consecutive years since Steffi Graf from 1991-1993.
2010 vs Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-3 6-2
World No.1 Serena powers past Vera Zvonareva in just 66 minutes to win a fourth Wimbledon, preserving her record of not having dropped a set in the process. It is her 13th Grand Slam singles title.
2012 vs Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 6-1 5-7 6-2
The 30-year-old American wins a fifth Wimbledon and 14th major, becoming the oldest winner since Martina Navratilova in 1990. The younger Williams sister draws level with Venus on five titles at the tournament. Radwanska is the first Polish woman in a Grand Slam final since 1939.
2015 vs Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 6-4 6-4
A 21st major for Serena as she adds Wimbledon to her Australian and French Open titles in 2015, completing the "Serena Slam" having also won the US Open in the previous year. "There was definitely pressure towards the end. Garbine started playing really well and I just had to think to stay out there and work really hard," she said. Serena was unable to complete the calendar Grand Slam when she went on to lose in the semi-finals in New York to Roberta Vinci.
2016 vs Angelique Kerber (GER) 7-5 6-3
A seventh Wimbledon for the American and 22nd Grand Slam title, equalling Steffi Graf's Open era record of major titles. "It makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard I worked hard for it. This court definitely feels like home," she said.