Canadian Teen Andreescu Stuns Serena In US Open Final

Bianca Andreescu (R) of Canada poses with the trophy after she won against Serena Williams (L) of the US after the Women’s Singles Finals match at the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 7, 2019. Johannes EISELE / AFP

 

 

Teenager Bianca Andreescu became Canada’s first Grand Slam singles champion Saturday with a rollercoaster 6-3, 7-5 win over 23-time major champion Serena Williams in the US Open final.

The 19-year-old Andreescu became the youngest Grand Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 US Open, handing Williams a fourth consecutive defeat in the final of a major to again deny her a record-equaling 24th Slam title.

Williams, 37, suffered a second finals loss in a row at Flushing Meadows, after a 2018 defeat against Naomi Osaka best remembered for a furious tirade against chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

Appearing in a 33rd Grand Slam final, and fourth since the last of her 23 major titles, Williams made an inauspicious start at Arthur Ashe Stadium by conceding her opening service game with successive double faults.

Andreescu, who wasn’t even born when Williams won her maiden Slam at the 1999 US Open, responded with a comfortable hold, a pattern that repeated itself until the Canadian threatened to run away with the opening set.

Serving at 2-4, Williams erased five breakpoints with a combination of aces and booming groundstrokes but Andreescu was knocking on the door once more as the American served to stay in the set.

A forehand winner earned the youngster a set point, and Williams duly her gifted her the opener with another double fault.

Andreescu had failed to even reach the main draw the past two years, twice falling in the first qualifying round, and her confidence continued to flow as she surged 2-0 ahead in the second — Williams again doubled-faulting on breakpoint.

The American carved out four opportunities to hit back the following game, benefiting from a huge stroke of luck when a forehand brushed the tape and trickled over to haul herself back on serve.

Undeterred Andreescu promptly regained the initiative with another break and looked to be marching towards the title when she followed a routine hold by again breaking the Williams serve for a 5-1 lead.

Andreescu brought up championship point in the ensuing game, but Williams smacked a forehand winner to stay alive and then rattled off 14 of 17 points to peg her opponent back at 5-all.

The Canadian stemmed the bleeding by holding for 6-5 and an errant Williams backhand handed Andreescu two more shots at the title. Williams saved the first with an ace but Andreescu secured victory on the next with a blistering forehand return.

AFP

Bianca, Medvedev Are My Two Underdogs – Serena’s Coach

US player Serena Williams’ Greek coach Patrick Mouratoglou watches her playing Germany’s Julia Goerges during their women’s singles third round match on the sixth day of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 6, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach of 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, touted Saturday’s US Open final opponent Bianca Andreescu as a future world number one in women’s tennis.

Williams is chasing a 24th Grand Slam singles crown to equal the record held by Australian Margaret Court, but Mouratoglou said he had full respect for the 19-year-old Andreescu.

“I said before the tournament, I had been asked who are my two underdogs, and I said Bianca and (Daniil) Medvedev. So I’m not surprised she’s there,” Mouratoglou said Friday.

“I expected her in final, and I think she’s going to be number one soon. Not too soon but in the future, because she has everything that’s needed to be number one.

“A lot of respect for her. A lot of tools in her game. Like a really complete game. She has the whole package. Like the game’s amazing, I think: the physical, the athleticism, and the mental. She looks incredibly confident. She feels like she’s where she belongs. That’s the impression she gives.”

Williams has lost three Grand Slam finals since her last major title at the 2017 Australian Open, but Mouratoglou is confident she can finally clinch a record-tying title at the fourth attempt.

“When you play a Grand Slam final there is a lot of emotion. So there is a lot of emotion for everyone, including, of course, Serena and all the champions.

“When you play for a record like this one, there is even more, which is fine. It’s called pressure, and I think Serena had to experience a bit of pressure in her life. And you can’t think that she’s not good dealing with pressure.

“But you have to realize that to be able to deal with pressure, you need to feel strong. If you feel weak or not as strong as you wish you would, it’s more difficult to beat the pressure.

“When you don’t move well, you can’t be as confident as you should be, because if your A game doesn’t work, you don’t have any other option, and for me that’s what happened.”

 Ready for US Open exam 

Just two years ago, Williams was fighting for her life with a blood clot in her lung after giving birth to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

She said she felt more prepared for the US Open than any other tournament during a year interrupted by ankle, knee and back issues.

Now she could become only the fourth mother in the Open era to win a Grand Slam title after Aussies Court and Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Belgium’s Kim Clijsters.

“I think it’s totally different situation now, because now she can move. If she needs to play the rally, she can play the rally. We have seen that I think a few times during the tournament,”

“So there is no panic if she misses a bit more than usual. No problem. There are other options of play. So I feel she’s so much more confident now because she knows she’s ready.

“It’s like going into an exam and feeling you’re not ready. It’s difficult for us to realize, because she was in three finals so you feel she’s ready. But she was in the three finals because she’s the best competitor of all times, not because she was ready.”

AFP

US Open: Serena To Avenge Olympic Defeat In Svitolina Clash

Serena Williams of the US returns the ball against Qiang Wang of China during their Women’s Singles Quarter-finals tennis match during the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 3, 2019. DOMINICK REUTER / AFP

 

Serena Williams will look to avenge a 2016 defeat at the Rio Olympic Games in Thursday’s US Open semi-final against Elina Svitolina as the American targets a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title.

A run to the last four in New York, bookended by crushing routs of long-time foe Maria Sharapova and China’s Wang Qiang, brought up a century of US Open wins for Williams, chasing her first Slam crown since the 2017 Australian Open.

Williams, who turns 38 later this month, holds a 4-1 career advantage over Svitolina, but the Ukrainian triumphed in their most recent encounter — a third-round clash at the Olympics in Rio.

“That was a tough Olympics for me. Oh, man. Lost in doubles for the first time. Just really devastated about that doubles loss. Then obviously singles shortly after,” Williams recalled after her 6-1, 6-0 quarter-final demolition of Wang in just 44 minutes.

READ ALSO: Bale Eyes Wales After Real Madrid Uncertainty

Williams, who is seeking a 24th major title to match Margaret Court’s all-time record, will likely face a far tougher proposition in fifth seed Svitolina.

The 24-year-old Odessa native has yet to drop a set at Flushing Meadows while taking out two-time former champion Venus Williams and 2017 runner-up Madison Keys.

“She is obviously a fighter. She gets a lot of balls back. She doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. She’s one of those players that does everything really well. So I have to do everything well, too,” Williams said.

Svitolina retains fond memories of her 6-4, 6-3 victory over defending Olympic champion Williams in Brazil, a watershed moment which came scarcely two months after she was throttled 6-1, 6-1 by the American at Roland Garros.

“It was unbelievable atmosphere. I played actually a great match. I was very young. Not very young, but I was kind of young at the time. I didn’t have big wins at that time. For me, it gave me lots of confidence,” Svitolina said.

“It gave me the confidence to actually let me believe that I can play consistent against the top players.”

 Singapore boost 

Svitolina has backed up her Wimbledon semi-final showing in July, where she lost to eventual champion Simona Halep, with another deep run at Flushing Meadows.

She is attempting to become just the second Ukrainian to play in a Grand Slam singles final — after Andrei Medvedev, who lost in five sets to Andre Agassi at the 1999 French Open.

Svitolina cites last year’s WTA Finals title in Singapore as a key factor behind her breakthrough Slam performances this season.

“I think I’m generally stronger. Mentally I’m handling the pressure points better. Sometimes it’s possible that you’re not there on that day, not playing your best. But you try to find your own path, your own way how to handle those kind of moments,” she said.

Williams blasted 25 winners in her rout of Wang, who failed to hit a single one, and Svitolina is fully aware of what to expect from an opponent hunting a seventh US Open title.

“I have to react quickly and try to take my chances when I have them,” Svitolina said.

“I think I have to run a lot, like all other matches. That’s normal. And try to react — I played some big hitters in this tournament, a lot, and I have to just react quickly with my feet and with my shots, as well. Then when I have the opportunity, go for it.”

AFP

Ruthless Serena Grabs 100th US Open Win

Serena Williams of the US serves against Qiang Wang of China during their Women’s Singles Quarter-finals tennis match during the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 3, 2019. DOMINICK REUTER / AFP

 

Serena Williams earned her 100th win at the US Open on Tuesday with a brutal 44-minute demolition of Wang Qiang, firing an ominous warning to rivals in her pursuit of a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title.

Six-time US Open champion Williams dismantled Chinese 18th seed Wang 6-1, 6-0 in a complete mismatch that was the quickest at this year’s tournament to set up a semi-final clash with Ukrainian trailblazer Elina Svitolina.

Williams brought up a century of US Open wins to move to within one of the all-time leader Chris Evert.

“It’s really unbelievable, literally. From when I first started here, I think I was 16, I didn’t think I would ever get to 100. I didn’t think I would still be out here,” Williams said.

The 37-year-old American is seeking a 24th major title to match Margaret Court’s longstanding record, and smacked 25 winners against first-time Slam quarter-finalist Wang, who failed to hit a single one.

The 27-year-old Wang had not lost a set during her best Slam run that included a defeat of reigning French Open champion Ashleigh Barty in the last 16, but she was powerless to stop a Williams onslaught at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“When I play someone who is playing really well, I know I have to either step it up or go home and I wasn’t ready to go home. I had to come out here and play really well,” said Williams, suffering no ill effects from the ankle she rolled in her previous match.

“Physically I’m feeling great. More than anything I’m just having fun every time I come out here.”

Wang, trying to become just the fourth Chinese player to reach the last four of a Slam, won just four points in the second set and 15 in total.

“It’s not easy to play against her,” Wang said. “The power, like, I cannot handle it. Just too much for me.”

Williams captured her last Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant and hasn’t won the US Open since 2014.

 Svitolina holds off Konta 

Fifth seed Svitolina defeated Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-4 to become the first Ukrainian to reach the US Open semi-finals, matching her run to the last four at Wimbledon in July.

“It feels amazing. It was a very, very tough match. We were both striking the ball well. It was quite even,” Svitolina said. “I’m very, very happy the way I handled the pressure.”

Svitolina watched a pair of match points pass her by at 5-3 on her opponent’s serve as Konta gamely fought to stay alive, but the Ukrainian closed out victory in the following game.

Svitolina had already knocked out two-time former champion Venus Williams and 2017 runner-up Madison Keys and is in a class of her own as the only Ukrainian woman to reach this stage at a major.

She will attempt to emulate Andrei Medvedev as just the second Ukrainian to play in a Grand Slam final. Medvedev lost the men’s 1999 Roland Garros final in five sets to Andre Agassi.

“Serena is an amazing champion. Probably it’s going to be really tough against her,” Svitolina said.

Williams, the lone former Grand Slam champion remaining in the draw, has defeated Svitolina in four of five previous meetings, although the latter won their most recent encounter at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Konta, who took out third seed and 2016 runner-up Karolina Pliskova in the last 16, was denied in her bid to be the first British woman to make the US Open semis since Jo Durie in 1983.

“She played so well, to be honest. Actually, I didn’t play badly at all,” said Konta, reflecting on a season in which she reached the quarter-finals or better at three Slams.

“It’s the best I have ever done so far in my career. There is a lot to be proud of there. There’s a lot to look back and smile on.”

The US Open is guaranteed a first-time major finalist and there will be four different Grand Slam winners in a season in the Open era for an unprecedented third year in a row.

Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu, who hasn’t lost a completed match since March, takes on Belgian 25th seed Elise Mertens in Wednesday’s quarter-finals.

Swiss 13th seed Belinda Bencic faces good friend Donna Vekic, the 23rd seed from Croatia, in the other last-eight clash.

AFP

Federer, Serena Breeze Into US Open Last 16 But Nishikori Out

Roger Federer and Serena Williams        Photos: AFP

 

Roger Federer and Serena Williams, the all-time leaders in Grand Slam titles, cruised into the fourth round of the US Open on Friday while 2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori was ousted by Australian Alex de Minaur.

Federer routed Britain’s 58th-ranked Dan Evans 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in only 80 minutes, blasting 48 winners to just seven for Evans, whose effort was hampered by an 18-hour turnaround between matches.

“I really enjoyed myself,” Federer said. “I was able to adjust and take care of business so it was good.”

Evans blasted organizers for playing him first on limited rest after a rain-delayed match on Thursday while his 38-year-old Swiss rival, a 20-time Slam champion, rested after playing Wednesday under the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“I was fatigued,” Evans said. “I thought it was pretty tough I was first up after playing yesterday, if I’m being brutally honest, so it was a bit disappointing.

“Just to try and beat him feeling tired, stiff, playing four sets yesterday, it’s near on impossible, but I actually thought he played pretty much no-error tennis.”

Williams continued her quest for a 24th career Grand Slam title to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record by crushing 44th-ranked Czech Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-2 in 74 minutes.

“I had a lot of intensity today, which is really good for me,” Williams said.

The 37-year-old American, six times a US Open champion, has been a runner-up in three of the past five Slams, falling to Naomi Osaka in last year’s US Open final. She last won a Slam crown at the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant and hasn’t won the US Open title since 2014.

“I actually prefer playing in the day because I get to go home and actually see my baby,” Williams said.

Japanese seventh seed Nishikori was dispatched by the 20-year-old Aussie 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. De Minaur, on his deepest Grand Slam run, will next face Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov or Polish lucky loser Kamil Majchrzak.

“This is where I feel like my game’s at. I want to be pushing second weeks of Grand Slams and putting myself out there. So very happy,” De Minaur said. “Hopefully I can just keep it rolling.”

It was the first victory over a top-10 foe in 12 tries for De Minaur, who squandered a two-set lead over 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic in last year’s Open third round.

“I had a little bit of a thriller last year versus Cilic and was two sets to love up,” De Minaur said. “I was glad I could finally get the win.”

Barty, Pliskova advance

Reigning French Open champion Ashleigh Barty, the Aussie second seed, and Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova, chasing her first Grand Slam title, also reached the last 16.

Pliskova, the 2016 US Open runner-up, outlasted Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 while Barty dispatched Greek 30th seed Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3.

“Physically it was quite a tough battle,” Pliskova said. “It was important to win so it doesn’t matter how I feel. So pleased to be through.”

Barty and Pliskova are battling top-ranked defending champion Osaka to be world number one at the end of the Flushing Meadows fortnight.

Barty has the inside track because Osaka has so many points to defend. The Japanese 21-year-old must win the title to have any chance at staying on top while Pliskova must reach at least the semi-finals.

Top-ranked defending champion Novak Djokovic, who has won four of the past five Slam titles and 16 overall, was set to play a night match against 111th-ranked American Denis Kudla, who has never beaten a top-10 rival in 10 tries.

The 32-year-old Serbian, a three-time US Open winner, has been no worse than a US Open semi-finalist since a third-round exit in 2006.

AFP

Just In: Injured Serena Retires From Toronto WTA Final, Andreescu Claims

 

Serena Williams fought back tears as back pain forced her out of the WTA Toronto final after just four games on Sunday, handing the title to home hope Bianca Andreescu.

Andreescu, 19, was up 3-1 with a break of serve when 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams found she couldn’t continue.

Serena, Osaka Book US Open Final Rematch In Toronto Auarter-final

FILE PHOTO: Naomi Osaka of Japan hugs Serena Williams of the United States after winning the Women’s Singles finals match on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018. PHOTO: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

 

Serena Williams and Japan’s Naomi Osaka booked a rematch of last year’s US Open final in the WTA Toronto quarter-finals after straight-set triumphs on Thursday.

Reigning US and Australian Open champion Osaka broke at love in the final game to defeat Polish teen Iga Swiatek 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 after one hour and 51 minutes.

World number 10 Williams was broken twice and dropped the first three games in 10 minutes then battled back to defeat Russia’s 48th-ranked Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-5, 6-4 in 91 minutes.

That set the stage for Williams, a 37-year-old American who will try for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the upcoming US Open, to again face Osaka after the controversial finish to their Grand Slam showdown last year in New York.

It would be the first match between Osaka and Williams since the Japanese star defeated her childhood idol 6-2, 6-4 in last year’s US Open final, a match marred by an on-court dispute between Williams and the umpire that led to a game penalty against Williams.

Osaka was booed by some fans during the awards ceremony and later dubbed what should have been her moment of glory “a little bittersweet.”

Williams spoke after her match but before she knew who she would face in the quarter-finals, saying either Osaka — who could return to the world number one ranking next week — or Swiatek would be worthy foes.

“It will be a good match, whoever wins,” Williams said. “Both players are playing well in this tournament in particular, so I’ll be ready for her.”

Alexandrova broke Williams — the 2001, 2011 and 2013 Canadian champion — in the first and third games for a 3-0 edge only to have Williams roll through the next four games.

They held from there until the final game of the first set, when the Russian’s eighth double fault handed Williams the set after 46 minutes.

“(Alexandrova) hit really, really hard and she was hitting a lot of winners, so I was just happy I was able to just fight through that,” Williams said.

Alexandrova broke Williams again to open the second set, but the US star pulled level in the sixth game and broke again in the 12th to advance after 91 minutes.

“I’m feeling good,” Williams said. “Just hopefully just being able to stay in the rhythm and playing this week and next week would be good.”

Williams said she is struggling with the transition from clay to grass to hardcourts more than usual this year.

“I definitely feel like it takes a while to get back into the rhythm,” she said. “So it definitely feels different, especially for me now. Usually I don’t feel that huge of a difference, but for whatever reason I do this year.”

Pliskova chases No. 1

Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova kept the pressure on Osaka in the battle to take the world number one ranking by also reaching the quarter-finals.

Pliskova eliminated Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 7-5 to set up a last-eight clash with rising Canadian star Bianca Andreescu, who outlasted fifth-seeded Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 6-1, 6-7 (7/9), 6-4.

Pliskova, 27, must reach the final to have any chance of taking the top spot next week. Otherwise, Osaka will claim the number one berth.

French Open champion Ashleigh Barty’s stint as the world’s top-ranked player was assured of ending after she was knocked out on Tuesday.

Defending champion and fourth seed Simona Halep of Romania, coming off a Wimbledon title last month, beat Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-1 to book a quarter-final against Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova, who ousted Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.

AFP

Miss Congeniality: Halep Proves Nice Girls Do Win

Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates beating US player Serena Williams during their women’s singles final on day twelve of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 13, 2019.
GLYN KIRK / AFP

 

Simona Halep handed Serena Williams her most lopsided Grand Slam final loss to clinch the Wimbledon title on Saturday and there will be few more popular champions.

Humble and grounded, Halep had already showed incredible resolve to win the 2018 Roland Garros title having lost all three of her previous Slam finals.

She further endeared herself by announcing before that Paris final that she “would be okay” if she lost again, as “no-one would have died”.

Halep, 27, is only the second Romanian woman to win a major after Virginia Ruzici claimed the 1978 French Open. Ruzici is now her manager.

Before her 2018 Roland Garros breakthrough, Halep had suffered three agonising defeats when one set from glory at the majors.

She lost the 2014 Roland Garros final to Maria Sharapova and the 2017 championship match in Paris after leading Jelena Ostapenko by a set and 3-0.

Her third came earlier in 2018 against another perennial underachiever on the biggest stage, Caroline Wozniacki, in a marathon match in sweltering conditions at Melbourne Park.

Halep became world number one in August 2017 and her 2018 French Open win over Sloane Stephens made her the first player to win her first Grand Slam title while holding the top ranking.

A huge star in her home country — Halep has appeared on the front cover of Romania’s ‘Elle’ magazine and opened a restaurant called ‘SH’ in her hometown of Constanta, which lies on the Black Sea.

“The fact that I am able to win maybe will give an inspiration also to Romanians, the kids, that it’s possible, even if you come from a little country, it’s possible if you work and if you believe.”

One of the main reasons why Halep had to wait so long to lift a major title was her relative lack of power when compared to the game’s other big stars.

But she has found compensation. “I’m fast, though, no?”

Halep, who Sports Illustrated once described as an ‘anti-diva’, now has $33 million banked from her career.

But she has not been seduced by the glitter of the sports world.

On Saturday, she made a point of thanking her mother for inspiration while light-heartedly winning the hearts of the All England Club.

“My mom said when I was 10 that if I want to do something in tennis I have to play in the final at Wimbledon,” she told Centre Court.

“I had lots of nerves, my stomach wasn’t very well.

She added: “I said at the start of the tournament that one of my motivations was to win and become a lifetime member of the club!”

Her folksy charm has also seduced hardened reporters.

She only follows two people on Twitter — one is former coach Darren Cahill and the other, bizarrely, is three-time world snooker champion Mark Selby.

“I have no idea how you play snooker. But I appreciate him,” said Halep.

“He’s been in Romania a few times. I met him. Also I have a snooker ball signed from him. That’s why I follow him.”

Halep has also expressed a childlike delight in the British royal family, confessing she’s a particular fan of the Duchess of Cambridge.

“Kate’s my favourite,” said Halep as the object of her regal affection looked down from the Royal Box.

But there still remains a steely streak, illustrated by the decision she made 10 years ago to undergo breast reduction surgery.

“It’s the weight that troubles me. My ability to react quickly, my breasts make me uncomfortable when I play,” she once said.

“I didn’t like them in my everyday life, either. I would have gone for surgery even if I hadn’t been a sportswoman.”

[UPDATED] Halep Shocks Serena To Win Wimbledon Title

Romania’s Simona Halep poses with the Venus Rosewater Dish trophy after beating Serena Williams during their women’s singles final clash at Wimbledon, on July 13, 2019.
GLYN KIRK / AFP

 

Simona Halep torpedoed Serena Williams’s latest bid to capture a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam on Saturday when she stormed to a sensational victory in a 56-minute Wimbledon final.

The 27-year-old Romanian captured her second career major with a 6-2, 6-2 victory adding a maiden Wimbledon — the first for her country in both men’s and women’s singles — to her 2018 Roland Garros triumph.

Defeat for 37-year-old Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon champion who won the last of her 23 Slam titles at the 2017 Australian Open, meant her attempt to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record for major wins was put back on ice until at least the US Open.

“My mom said when I was 10 that if I want to do something in tennis I have to play in the final at Wimbledon,” said Halep.

“I had lots of nerves, my stomach wasn’t very well. I have never played a better match.

“I said at the start of the tournament that one of my motivations was to win and become a lifetime member of the club.”

Williams bluntly admitted she had not been at the races against a superior opponent.

“She played out of her mind. I was like a deer in the headlights,” said Williams.

Williams was undone by 26 unforced errors to Halep’s two.

Williams may have kept Halep waiting to go on the court but if she hoped that would upset her opponent it did quite the opposite.

Indeed the Halep fan who burst into song — waving a Romanian scarf from the 2015 Rugby World Cup — singing “We love you Simona, we do!” served to give her the boost to rattle Williams from the start.

A flashing forehand crosscourt set the tone and she broke her in the first game.

She broke again to lead 3-0 — things clearly not going Williams’s way when a Halep shot clipped the net and went over but the American’s shot also clipped the net but failed to go over.

Already 3-0 down after eight minutes, Williams was completely at sea and by the time Halep served to lead 4-0 Williams had won just six points.

She finally got on the board with her next service game but Halep had little trouble in sealing the set which included another remarkable point from the Romanian.

The 27-year-old raced to retrieve an incredible get which sneaked over the net and Williams was only able to put her shot into the net.

Williams — who has let slip opportunities to equal Court’s record in last year’s Wimbledon and US Open finals — appeared to at last get fired up in the first game of the second set.

She let out a long yell at the ground when she won a point on her serve and another on the next point.

However, that was a rare show of her fiery side as Halep broke her to lead 3-2.

Halep rubbed in her superiority to break her again for 5-2 — two powerful serves earlier in the game had Williams saying why was I not able to do this earlier — and took the match and the title with aplomb with the first of her three match points.

She sank to her knees a broad smile on her face before rising to hug Williams.

Her victory also gave Halep’s favoured royal Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, bragging rights over sister-in-law Meghan, Duchess of Sussex — they were sitting beside each other in the Royal Box.

Meghan is a close friend of Williams.

AFP

Calm Before The Storm? Halep Stands Between Serena And Court Landmark

This combination of pictures created on July 11, 2019, shows US player Serena Williams (L) celebrating a win during the 2019 Wimbledon Championships in Wimbledon, on July 9, 2019, and Romania’s Simona Halep reacting after winning a point during the 2019 Wimbledon Championships in Wimbledon, on July 11, 2019.

 

Serena 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 controversial Australian when she plays another former world number one Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final on Saturday.

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.

Those attending the final anticipating a long drawn out duel may be disappointed – the last time the climax to the women’s singles went to three sets was in 2012 when Williams beat Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.

Williams will hope for a happier ending than being out-played both by Angelique Kerber in last year’s Wimbledon final and Naomi Osaka in the US Open final where a spectacular meltdown torpedoed her cause, leading her to eventually consult a therapist.

Williams claimed after her semi-final romp over unseeded Czech Barbora Strycova that the Court landmark is not on her mind.

“I thought about it this morning,” she said.

“I actually didn’t think about it since because it’s really not about 24 or 23 or 25.

“It’s really just about going out there and giving my best effort no matter what.

“No matter what I do, I will always have a great career. I just kind of let it go this morning. I feel really calm about it.”

Her claiming to be calm — she attributes this to digging into her memory and recalling how she felt when she beat sister Venus in 2002 for her first Wimbledon title — will reassure her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

The 49-year-old Frenchman is more forthright over the reason why Williams has returned to the tour after giving birth to her daughter Olympia.

It is chasing down 76-year-old Court’s landmark set between 1960 and 1973.

‘Stronger Mentally’

“That’s why she came back to playing tennis after having a baby and so many medical complications,” he said.

“The effort she’s put in, I’ve never seen something like this.

“You have no idea how hard she worked to come back to that level, and she came back for that, so it will probably mean a lot if she makes it.”

Williams’s campaign has been something of a rollercoaster.

Sublime against Strycova — who had ousted four seeds on her way to the semi-finals — she wobbled badly against compatriot Alison Riske in the previous round.

Calmness was not the adjective to describe her emotions during the Riske match and even she admits her serenity on Thursday could be replaced by a contrasting demeanour come Saturday.

“It’s a day-to-day basis with me,” she said.

“We all know that. I’m far from perfect.”

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.

But she has shown already she can deal with a partisan crowd having beaten 15-year-old Coco Gauff on Monday.

The size of the challenge confronting her is reflected in having won just one of her 10 previous meetings with Williams, although she has regularly taken her to three sets.

“Of course, I respect a lot what she has done and what she’s doing. But now I feel stronger mentally facing her.

However, for Halep it is not about being the latest player to deny Williams equalling Court’s landmark.

“I’m desperate to win Wimbledon more than to stop her.”

Martina Navaratilova, who holds the record of nine women’s Wimbledon singles titles, says Halep’s hopes of getting Williams involved in long rallies to tire her out are likely to be dashed.

“You can’t get to the big points because Serena is always ahead,” she told the BBC.

“It’s the weapon of mass destruction I call it — the Serena serve.”

Halep Becomes First Romanian Woman To Reach Wimbledon Final

Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates after beating Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina during their women’s singles semi-final match on day ten of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships, on July 11, 2019.
Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP

 

Simona Halep became the first Romanian woman to reach the Wimbledon final on Thursday when she defeated Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-3.

The 27-year-old seventh seed, who was French Open champion in 2018, will be playing in her fifth Grand Slam final.

“It’s an amazing feeling but I am also excited and nervous. It is one of the best moments of my life,” said Halep.

“The match was not easy, the games were long and went deep.

“I fought hard to win this match and I was strong mentally and physically and had the right tactics.”

Halep will face either seven-time champion Serena Williams or unseeded Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic for the title on Saturday.

Halep, who had knocked out new star, 15-year-old Coco Gauff in the last 16, lost in her previous semi-final appearance at Wimbledon to Eugenie Bouchard in 2014.

However, she said she was a different player now and had taken to grass.

“I have more experience, I don’t give up anymore,” she said.

“I plan to be the best version of myself and fight to the end.”

The easy manner in which former world number one Halep wrapped up the match had not looked on the cards at the outset.

Svitolina, the first Ukrainian woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final, and Halep traded shots aplenty and break points in the opening two games which took over 20 minutes to complete but Halep emerged on top with a 2-0 lead.

Svitolina, being watched from the players’ box by her English coach Andy Bettles and French boyfriend and ATP star Gael Monfils, briefly raised her game to break back.

However, Halep broke again immediately and 24-year-old Svitolina gave an indication of her increasing frustration when she netted a simple volley and lashed out, kicking the ball into the net.

Worse was to come for Svitolina on her next service game when Halep produced a stunning shot to go 5-1.

The 27-year-old Romanian dashed across court to get to Svitolina’s drop shot and flashed it cross court.

Halep, who had not faced a seeded player until Svitolina, faced some resistance as she served for the set eventually taking it on her sixth set point.

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.

All that was left was for Halep to raise her arms in the air and her eyes to the sky blowing a kiss a the same time.

AFP

Serena ‘Saw Therapist’ After US Open Meltdown, Apologises To Osaka

 

Serena Williams revealed Tuesday that she consulted a therapist after her infamous 2018 US Open final meltdown in which her bitter war of words with the umpire overshadowed Naomi Osaka’s maiden Grand Slam victory.

The American superstar was widely vilified for her New York outburst in which she branded the chair umpire a “liar” and “thief”.

She was handed a code violation for coaching, docked a point for smashing her racquet and penalised a game for verbal abuse.

“I couldn’t find peace. I started seeing a therapist,” Williams wrote in a first-person account published in US glossy magazine Harper’s Bazaar.

“I was searching for answers, and although I felt like I was making progress, I still wasn’t ready to pick up a racquet.”

Williams’s essay appeared online and on her own Instagram account in the middle of her Wimbledon quarter-final defeat of Alison Riske on Tuesday.

In it, she says she has apologised to Osaka, the breakout Japanese star who won the US Open final in straight sets.

“I am so proud of you and I am truly sorry. I thought I was doing the right thing in sticking up for myself. But I had no idea the media would pit us against each other,” said the 37-year-old Williams.

“I would love the chance to live that moment over again. I am, was, and will always be happy for you and supportive of you.

“I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete.”

Williams said that Osaka, who went on to take the Australian Open title and the world number one spot, had accepted her apology.

Osaka’s reply, she insisted, had even moved her to tears.

Despite her apology, Williams still insists she was a victim of sexism at Flushing Meadows.

“Why is it that when women get passionate, they’re labeled emotional, crazy, and irrational, but when men do they’re seen as passionate and strong?

“So often, in situations similar to mine, when men fight back against the referees, they’re met with a smile or even a laugh from the umpire, as if they’re sharing an inside joke.

“I’m not asking to avoid being penalized. I am asking to be treated the same way as everyone else. Sadly, that’s simply not the world we currently live in.”

After partnering Andy Murray in the mixed doubles on Tuesday, the American said it had been a tough decision to seek counselling.

“It wasn’t very easy. I’ve had a lot of things happen to me at that particular tournament in general,” she explained.

“It was just important to always try to better yourself in any way that you can.”