Williams primed to land Wimbledon crown

Steely-eyed Serena Williams feels battle-hardened and ready to add a sixth Wimbledon crown to her growing grand slam collection with victory in her eighth final at the All England Club on Saturday.

The world No.1 faces Spanish surprise packet Garbine Muguruza, a first-time grand slam finalist, and says her torrid early-round comeback wins over Victoria Azarenka and Heather Watson have her primed for the title match.

“Like I always say, I would prefer to have an easier match. But when you have a tough match and you’re able to come through, obviously that really helps,” Williams said after a crushing Maria Sharapova 6-2 6-4 in a semi-final cruise on Thursday.

“I think sometimes you definitely need them or you’re not feeling your game, or you feel like you’re not necessarily playing your best tennis.

“Sometimes they’re important to know that, `Okay, I can last two hours, I can last two-and-a-half hours if I need to’.

“Just mentally it’s like, `Okay, I know I can do that’.”

The winner of 38 out of 39 outings in 2015, Williams has more tennis history at her mercy against Muguruza, a 6-2 3-6 6-3 semi-final victor over Polish 13th seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

The American can complete another “Serena Slam” by holding all four major trophies for the second time, a feat the ageless champion last achieved 12 years ago.

But the topic – as well as the chance to also be the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to secure a calendar-year sweep of tennis’s four majors – has been off limits since before the championships.

“I don’t what the pressure of that, and I’m not thinking of that,” Williams maintained after continuing her 11-year mastery of Sharapova.

The all-conquering top seed also enters her 25th grand slam final seeking a 21st major title to close to within one of Graf’s open-era benchmark 22 singles slams.

Standing in her way is the Venezuela-born, Barcelona-raised Muguruza, the world No.20 who upended Williams in last year’s French Open.

It was a chastening defeat that motivated Williams to get even better and the 33-year-old has since embarked on a 27-match grand slam winning streak.

“It was an eye-opening loss for me,” said the reigning US, Australian and French Open champion.

“Some losses you’re angry about and some losses you learn from. That loss I think I learned the most from in a long time.

“I got so much better after that loss. I was able to improve a lot. I worked on things.

“I didn’t see the results straightaway. But months later I started seeing the results more and more.

“I don’t want to lose to anyone at a grand slam.”

HOW THE WOMEN’S WIMBLEDON FINALISTS SHAPE UP AHEAD OF SATURDAY’S SHOWDOWN (11PM AEST):

1-SERENA WILLIAMS (USA) leads 20-GARBINE MUGURUZA (ESP) 2-1

2015 Australian Open, R16, hard, Williams 2-6 6-3 6-2

2014 French Open, R64, clay, Muguruza 6-2 6-2

2013 Australian Open, R64, hard, Williams 6-2 6-0

SERENA WILLIAMS

Age: 33 Born: Saginaw, Michigan, USA

Lives: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA

Height: 175cm

Weight: 70kg

Ranking: 1

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US69,676,428 ($A93.85 million)

Career titles: 66

Career win-loss record: 715-121

Grand slam titles: 20 (Australian Open 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009-10, 2015; French Open 2002, 2013, 2015; Wimbledon 2002-03, 2009-10, 2012; US Open 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012-2014)

Grand slam win-loss record: 189-28

Wimbledon win-loss record: 78-10

Best Wimbledon performances: champion 2002-03, 2009-10, 2012

ROAD TO FINAL

1st rd: bt Margarita Gaspariyan (RUS) 6-4 6-1

2nd rd: bt Timea Babos (HUN) 6-4 6-1

3rd rd: bt Heather Watson (GBR) 6-2 4-6 7-5

4th rd: bt 16-Venus Williams (USA) 6-4 6-3

QF: bt 23-Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 3-6 6-2 6-3

SF: bt 4-Maria Sharapova (RUS) 6-2 6-4

GARBINE MUGURUZA

Age: 21

Born: Caracas, Venezuela

Lives: Barcelona, Spain

Height: 182cm

Weight: 73kg

Ranking: 20

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US2,543,146 ($A3.43 million)

Career titles: 1

Career win-loss record: 221-109

Grand slam titles: 0

Grand slam win-loss record: 23-10

Wimbledon win-loss record: 7-2

Best Wimbledon performances: finalist 2015

ROAD TO FINAL

1st rd: bt Varvara Lepchencko (USA) 6-4 6-1

2nd rd: bt Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 6-3 4-6 6-2

3rd rd: bt 10-Angelique Kerber (GER) 7-6 1-6 6-2

4th rd: bt 5-Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 6-4 6-4

QF: bt 15-Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 7-5 6-3

SF: bt 13-Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 6-2 3-6 6-3

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