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Date TimeJuly 11, 2019
VoiceSerena Williams could see the question coming – just as she had anticipated nearly every move Barbora Strycova made on Centre Court shortly before – and she smilingly agreed that her brief collaboration with Andy Murray had helped her to reach her 11th Wimbledon singles final.
Serena Williams credits Murray after beating Strycova to reach Wimbledon final
This was the relaxed Williams, the Williams who wins as she pleases, rather than the near-meltdown Williams who can inexplicably collapse in sight of the prize – which, in this case, is an eighth title here and 24th career major, finally to move alongside Margaret Court at the top of her sport.
Two days previously she was intermittently dreadful and resilient in beating Alison Riske in three sets. Here there was sharpness at the net and confidence in moving to the volley that bore the signs of her mixed doubles campaign with Murray, and she will need all of that and more to beat Simona Halep in the final on Saturday.
As she put it after beating Strycova 6-1, 6-2 in 59 minutes: “I promise you, when I hit a volley I was like: ‘Would I have made that if I didn’t play doubles?’ I don’t think so. I kept telling you guys I thought the doubles would help me. I really think it did. I don’t attack the net that much. I tried to and I want to.
“I know when I do, when I play doubles here with Venus, it definitely helps my singles game. I was really keen to play mixed here. I feel like it helped me, not just for today and this event but hopefully it will help me in the future.”
So, there is hope for Murray still to have another tilt at one of the game’s lesser titles, but one that plainly helped Williams on day 10. Tracy Austin, who won the mixed doubles title here in 1980, thinks so.
“Playing mixed doubles with Andy Murray brought her intensity up,” the former world No 1 said in conversation with the BBC’s Sue Barker, “because we know how intense Andy is.”
Martina Navratilova observed of Williams’s win against the 33-year-old Czech: “Strycova was on the run every single shot. She defended to win her three games but that is all she had.”
Williams’s serve clicked near its best, delivering her the point 24 times out of 27 at the first attempt, nine from 17 when she needed a second serve, and striking 28 clear winners in such a short match, demonstrating how commanding she was.
Whether or not she can reproduce that brilliance against Halep, who beat the No 8 seed Elina Svitolina almost as impressively – 6-1, 6-3 in 1hr 13min – might depend on the American’s mood. As Williams admitted when reflecting on her relaxed demeanour: “I was calm today. It’s a day-to-day basis with me. We all know that. I’m far from perfect.”
That is patently true. It is 10 months since she lost all sense of proportion and discipline in losing the US Open final, although she insisted in an open letter this week to her conqueror, Naomi Osaka, that it was the media’s fault.
Ther was no friction here, though. All was well in the world and her smile was wide and generous. She revealed she had been thinking that morning about her journey, about motherhood, her post-match outfit, her first Wimbledon final, against her sister Venus in 2002, and about the number 24, the next hurdle to jump. Or did she?
“I thought about it this morning,” she began, adding quickly: “I actually didn’t think about it, because it’s really not about 24 or 23 or 25. It’s 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 don’t know … I just kind of let it go this morning. Yeah, I feel really calm about it.” Maybe she does.
Strycova, who looked in the form of her life defeating Johanna Konta on Tuesday, was philosophical, too, in defeat, full of admiration for the player Murray calls “one of the greatest of all time”. Strycova said: “I think it was her best match of all here. She was serving amazing. She was playing very deep, so I really couldn’t play the way I wanted to do.
“If she will play like this in the final, it’s going to be very hard for Simona. But Simona has also her weapons. Every day is different.”
With Williams, that is on the money.

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