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Wimbledon: Halep Stands Between Serena And Court Landmark

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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 No 1 Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final, today.

Aside from the one-on-one rivalry on court, both women have a member of the royal family rooting for them – Williams’ friend Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Halep favouring Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.

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 semifinal 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.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer gained his revenge 11 years on with victory over great rival Rafael Nadal to reach a 12th Wimbledon final.

A rematch of their classic 2008 title decider, won in five pulsating sets by Nadal, had been anticipated more than any match for years at the All England Club and it did not disappoint.

The final stages were packed full of extraordinary tension and drama, with Nadal saving four match points but, after three hours and two minutes, it was Federer, a month shy of his 38th birthday, who clinched a 7-6 (3) 1-6 6-3 6-4 victory and the chance to take on Novak Djokovic on Sunday, who earlier defeated Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets.

Should he win, it would give the ageless Swiss a ninth Wimbledon title and take him to 21 grand slam trophies, three ahead of Nadal and six clear of Djokovic.

This was Federer and Nadal’s 40th meeting, a clash of styles and personalities that dates back 15 years and continues to capture the imagination like nothing else in sport.

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