London — Serena Williams demonstrated that having a baby had not robbed her of any of her phenomenal tennis skills when she became the first mother in 38 years to reach the Wimbledon final, with a 6-2 6-4 demolition of Julia Goerges on Thursday.
Germany’s Goerges came into her first Grand Slam semifinal having belted more winners (199), more aces (44) and more unreturned serves (113) than anyone else in the women’s draw, but those statistics counted for little when she came up against an opponent who is in hot pursuit of a record-equalling 24th Major.
Remarkably, the 36-year-old was back in a Grand Slam final just 10 months after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia.
"It’s crazy. I don’t even know how to feel because I didn’t think I’d do this well in my fourth tournament back in 16 months," said the American, who won the 2017 Australian Open while in the early stages of her pregnancy.
"When I don’t have anything to lose, I can just play so free and that’s what I’m doing.
"This is not inevitable for me, I had a really tough delivery and multiple surgeries and almost didn’t make it to be honest. I couldn’t even walk to my mailbox, so it’s definitely not normal for me to be in a Wimbledon final," she said. "I’m enjoying every moment."
That enjoyment was clear to see as she dashed Goerges’s hopes of setting up an all-German final with Angelique Kerber in 70 unforgiving minutes.
The 13th seed had never taken a set off Williams in three previous meetings and unfortunately for her the American was once again at her dominant best as she bludgeoned down five aces and 16 winners to finish off Goerges.
In each set Goerges was broken in the sixth game.
She simply did not have the firepower or belief to stop the seven-times champion from surging to a 20th successive win on the hallowed turf.
Williams gave the crowd a one-arm raised victory twirl after reaching a 10th Wimbledon final when her opponent swiped a lob behind the baseline.
At 181st in the world, Williams is the lowest-ranked player to reach the women’s final. But that number will fool no one — especially not Kerber, who was runner-up to the American in the 2016 final.
Kerber proved too steady for error-strewn Latvian Jelena Ostapenko with a comfortable 6-3 6-3 victory.
A first duel between the two Grand Slam champions with diametrically opposed playing styles ultimately boiled down to a simple mathematical formula.
Young firebrand Ostapenko’s 30 winners far outweighed the 10 struck by the wily Kerber but the 36 unforced errors she committed made for an ugly balance sheet. The 30-year-old Kerber, who offered up only a miserly seven free points, really just had to stay calm and wait for her opponent to self-destruct. Ostapenko fell into the trap.
"I was expecting that she is playing like she played from the beginning: really hard, pushing me back," Kerber said.
"I was trying to stay focused and play every single point because she started really well. Then I was just trying to find my rhythm and take my chances when I had them."
Kerber, who is a former world No1, needed only 68 minutes to reach her fourth Grand Slam final.
Kerber can expect less charity in the showpiece on Saturday.