Williams: Finding 'younger Serena' is paramount to Wimbledon success
LONDON – Serena Williams believes that looking back at her younger self is the key element to winning another Wimbledon title when she plays Simona Halep on Saturday.
Williams will be competing for an eighth championship at the All-England Club and is looking to equal Australian Margaret Court's record haul of 24 major wins.
The 37-year-old, who returned to the sport last year following the birth of her first child, says casting her mind back to a more youthful time has helped rediscover the winning edge a "younger Serena" had.
"When I won my first Wimbledon. It was against Venus [her sister, in 2002]. I was trying to tap into those emotions," Williams said after beating Czech Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-2 in Thursday's semi-finals .
"I was really calm. I'm just trying to tap into that younger Serena, trying to tap into how to win basically."
An added incentive for Williams in her latest main stage appearance is to erase the disappointment of the previous two.
She was outplayed by Germany's Angelique Kerber in the 2018 Wimbledon final, and there was uproar over her behaviour during her US Open loss to Naomi Osaka, which involved in an altercation with an umpire.
"To even be in those two finals last year was unbelievable. Now I'm in a different place," said Williams. "I actually was sad but I was also proud of myself."
At 37 years and 291 days, if Williams wins an eighth Wimbledon title she will become the oldest champion since Charlotte Cooper Sterry in 1908.
Williams says the longevity of her career has been aided by technology and inspiration from a fellow sporting star in Tiger Woods.
"I think technology has really changed. That's the only reason I'm able to compete," said Williams.
"I feel like if we had this technology 20 years ago, maybe Michael Jordan would still be playing basketball.
"Tiger obviously, what he did at the Masters, was on top of my mind. That's one thing that keeps me moving forward."
On the other side of the net, Halep will be playing against someone she looks up to in her first Wimbledon final.
"I respect a lot what she has done and what she's doing," said the 27-year-old Romanian when asked about her opponent.
"I think it's a great feeling to face Serena in a Grand Slam final. If you are able to win, it makes it sweeter."
Halep, who won her maiden grand slam title at the 2018 French Open, says she is "desperate" to win and not just to stop Williams equalling Court's all-time leading 24 grand slams.
"I'm desperate to win Wimbledon more than to stop her," Halep said.
"I'm not thinking about her record. Her records are huge already."
One person Halep is eager to impress is a close family member, who told the former world number one it was their lifelong ambition to play in a Wimbledon final.
"I talked to my mom after the match," said Halep following her 6-1, 6-3 triumph over Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals.
"About 10, 15 years ago she said her dream is to play [the] final in Wimbledon. She said I think it's an unbelievable moment. So her dream came true."
Even though Williams has won nine of 10 previous contests against Halep, she hasn't forgotten how unpredictably Halep can play, and the sole victory she claimed at Indian Wells in 2015.
"Her ability to find power. I can't underestimate her. She's like a little powerhouse," Williams commented on Halep's ability.
"She finished the year as number one twice in a row. I feel like she's back. She wants to prove that she can do it again."dpa