Serena Williams activates ‘god mode’ to reach tenth Wimbledon final

Hannah Wilks in Wimbledon 12 Jul 2018
  • Serena Williams reaches her tenth Wimbledon final after defeating Julia Goerges 6-2, 6-4
  • Williams will face Angelique Kerber in a rematch of the 2016 Wimbledon final
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Wimbledon at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)
Serena Williams celebrates victory against Julia Goerges

Serena Williams will play for her eighth Wimbledon title as she takes on Angelique Kerber in the 2018 final.

Williams delivered an extraordinarily high-level performance to defeat Julia Goerges 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals and book her place in Saturday’s final.

Julia Goerges acquitted herself very well in her first Grand Slam semifinal, played great tennis and took it to Williams – but still found herself on the wrong end of a one-sided scoreline thanks to the undisputed superiority of the player above the net. 

If this were almost any other Wimbledon, this would be no more or less than is expected of one of the greatest players of all time in a semifinal. But it is a mere ten and a half months since Williams, in a welter of pain and blood, brought another human being into the world – a complicated delivery attended by life-threatening complications – and this was only her fourteenth match in a year and a half. No one could be expected to be winning Wimbledon semifinal matches under such circumstances; no one really expected anything else from Williams today. Such is the nature of greatness.

Tested by Camila Giorgi in the quarterfinals, Williams raised her level to come back from a set down but she was even better today against Goerges, who came out with little to lose and played like it. The German saved a break point in her opening service game, controlling a short rally with her big forehand ending with a whipped winner cross-court, and held with an ace down the T to start the match well despite having let a 40-0 lead slip. 

Battle was joined, and Goerges pushed to 30-30 and then to deuce in Williams’s next service game before the American held to lead 2-1 with consecutive unplayable serves down the middle. Had the German made the second-serve return at 30-30, it might, perhaps, all have been different – but probably not. 

Williams quickly clicked into a smooth rhythm on serve after those first two games, and held to lead 3-2 despite two excellent forehand winners from Goerges. There was a sense that the American was accelerating inexorably up through the gears, and so it proved when she went on the attack in the sixth game, starting with a bruising return that set up a drive volley for 0-15. Goerges responded by handling a very tricky backhand down the line for a winner and landing a big serve for 30-15, but Williams had zeroed in on the German’s forehand when stretched out wide as a point of vulnerability, and she targeted it inexorably three times in a row to get the break and lead 4-2. 

The same play was crucial as Williams held for 5-2 despite some excellent returns from Goerges, and then got her teeth into the German’s next service game, absolutely smoking a second-serve return winner for 0-30. It pressured a double fault out of Goerges for 0-40 and a crushing cross-court forehand from Williams secured the first set. 

It’s easy to focus on Williams’s power, but the hallmark of this victory was tremendous control and clean ball-striking, with the American making just seven unforced errors throughout the entire match. Just like in the first set, both women held crisply for the first five games, and then Williams once more went on the attack. Goerges pulled it back from 0-30 to 30-30, but a tremendous lob from Williams kept her in the point and Goerges had to hit it high over her shoulder, not being able to risk that it would land on the line. The ball sat up for Williams to smoke it down the line, and although Goerges very nearly saved the break point with an improvised backhand drop shot, the ball hit the top of the tape and just bounced back. 

Williams held to love with her fifth ace to put herself one game from the win, but there was one more twist in the tale to come with Goerges pulling off several high-risk, courageous shots to break back for 4-5 as the American served for the match. For the first time, perhaps, the German disappointed a little as she missed a forehand for 0-30, then double faulted to give up three match points, but the pressure from Williams had been so extreme that when Goerges’ lob attempt drifted long on match point it felt like an ‘earned’ mistake from a gallant opponent.

‘It’s crazy, I don’t even know how to feel,’ Williams said immediately afterwards to the BBC.  ‘I literally didn't expect to do this well in my fourth tournament back in 18 months. When I've got nothing to lose, I can play so free.’

Should Williams beat Angelique Kerber in Saturday’s final, she will tie the all-time Grand Slam record at 24 alongside Margaret Court. But the American denied that such a thing was on her mind. 

‘To be perfectly honest, I haven’t thought about that this tournament,’ she said. ‘Not even once, actually. In fact I probably forgot about it. I think that’s a good thing because I put so much pressure on myself when I was trying to get to 18.  
‘But as I’ve said in the past couple of years, I don’t want to limit myself, and I think that’s what I was doing in the past, I was limiting myself. It’s just a number, and I want to get as many as I can.’

As her performance on Thursday made clear, when it comes to what Serena Williams can achieve on a tennis court, there may be no limits. She will face Kerber in her tenth Wimbledon final on Saturday. 

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Serena Williams activates ‘god mode’ to reach tenth Wimbledon final

Serena Williams will play for an eighth Wimbledon title against Angelique Kerber after impressing in a superb 6-2, 6-4 win over Julia Goerges

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