Serena Williams longs to tell her daughter how she bound her longtime label, champion, with her newer one, mother. She’s one match from making that happen, 10 months after childbirth.
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles winner and seven times at Wimbledon, advanced to Saturday’s Wimbledon final with a 6-2, 6-4 win over German Julia Görges on Thursday.
“It’s crazy, I don’t even know how to feel because, literally, didn’t think I would do this well in my fourth tournament back,” said Williams, who returned to tournament play in March. “This was not inevitable for me.”
“Walking to the mailbox was a painful, exhausting challenge for this woman just 9 months ago,” Williams’ husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, tweeted Tuesday, referencing Williams’ pulmonary embolism after giving birth, which left her bedridden for six weeks. “This is already nothing short of remarkable.”
On Saturday, Williams can match Australian Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles and move one shy of Martina Navratilova‘s record nine Wimbledons. But her opponent in the final knows what it’s like to beat Williams for a major title.
German Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open and U.S. Open winner, beat 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-3 in Thursday’s early semifinal. Williams beat Kerber 7-5, 6-3 in their last meeting in the 2016 Wimbledon final.
But Kerber upset Williams in the 2016 Australian Open final, one of two Williams losses in her 12 Grand Slam finals since the start of 2012.
“It is a completely new match,” said Kerber, who failed to make a Grand Slam quarterfinal in 2017, won zero tournaments, fell from No. 1 to 21 and changed coaches. “We both learned a lot. She’s coming back and for me also I’m coming back from 2017. I know that I have to play my best tennis to beat her, especially on the grass.”
Williams can become the second mother in the last 38 years to win a Grand Slam singles title. Belgian Kim Clijsters won the 2009 U.S. Open, 18 months after childbirth, then added two more Grand Slam titles before retiring in 2012.
Wimbledon continues Friday with the men’s semifinals: Rafael Nadal playing Novak Djokovic for a 52nd time, most between two men in the Open Era (Djokovic leads 26-25), and American John Isner against South African Kevin Anderson in a match of first-time Wimbledon semifinalists.
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