US Open: Serena Williams says 'feels like I've already won' after reaching finals
On the cusp of achieving record 24th Slam after a clinical 6-3, 6-0 win over Sevastova in semis, Serena believes pregnancy battle has ensured she's a champion regardless of result in the final
Serena Williams choked back tears as she contemplated the year-long journey that has taken her from fighting for her life in a hospital bed to the verge of history.
Williams overwhelmed Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-0 to reach her 31st Grand Slam singles final. There she will face a first-timer 16 years her junior in Naomi Osaka, who grew up idolising the woman she must now try to beat.
Williams never expressed any doubt that she would return to the game following the birth of her daughter Olympia last September, but that seemed an awfully long way away when she developed life-threatening complications. "It's really incredible. A year ago I was literally fighting for my life after I had the baby. Every time I step out on this court, I am so grateful I have an opportunity to play this sport. No matter what happens in any match – semis, final – I feel like I've already won," Serena said.
Williams has dropped only one set in the tournament and, although she was similarly dominant in getting to the Wimbledon final only to lose heavily to Angelique Kerber, she looks to have moved up several notches.
It was her net play that impressed the most against the wily Sevastova, 28, a Latvian appearing in her first slam semi-final, who won the first two games and then only one of the next 13.
Williams came to the net 28 times and won 24 of the points, not giving her opponent a chance to disrupt her rhythm. Frighteningly for the rest of the women's game as Williams chases the title that would see her equal Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 slam singles crowns, she does not believe she is yet back to anything like her best.
Williams put her current level at only 50 or 60 per cent, and said: "I definitely don't feel myself yet. My mom said it takes a full year to get back. I'm at a full year now. But I'm also playing a sport professionally. "This is the beginning. I'm not there yet, but I still have a very bright future."
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