Serena Williams is one victory away from equalling Margaret Court’s all-time grand slam record and will have royal support as she attempts to make more history.
Ten months after giving birth to daughter Olympia and suffering life-threatening complications, and in only her fourth tournament back, the 36-year-old defeated Julia Goerges 6-2 6-4 to reach her 10th Wimbledon final.
Victory over Angelique Kerber tomorrow would give Williams a 24th slam singles title, tieing her with Australian Court.
And after days of speculation it was confirmed that Williams’s close friend Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, will be in the Royal Box to lend her support.
Williams cited beating Court’s record as a motivating factor in her comeback, but said: “I don’t want to limit myself. I think that’s what I was doing in the past, I was limiting myself.
“It’s just a number. I want to get as many as I can. I still have a match to win, so I’m not even there yet.”
Williams put on a superb display of power and athleticism to defeat Goerges, who was by no means overawed in her first grand slam semi-final.
The American will next contest a rematch of the 2016 final against German Kerber.
Williams has not lost a singles match at Wimbledon since a third-round defeat by Alize Cornet in 2014 and is on a 20-match winning streak at the tournament. It may appear like business as usual to the outside world, but to Williams it is anything but.
She said: “It’s no secret I had a super tough delivery. I lost count after four surgeries because I was in so many surgeries. It was just routine every day, I had to have a new surgery.
“Because of all the blood issues I have I was really touch-and-go for a minute. I’m glad no one told me at the time I was going through that. It was tough. There was a time I could barely walk to my mailbox.
“A lot of people were saying, ‘Oh, she should be in the final’. For me it’s such a pleasure and a joy because less than a year ago I was going through so much stuff.”
Williams is unquestionably Wimbledon royalty and Kensington Palace announced the Duchess of Sussex will be at the All England Club with sister-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge for the women’s final.
Williams, who was among the guests at the royal wedding in May, said of Meghan: “We’ve always had a wonderful friendship. Every year for a couple years she comes out to Wimbledon, has supported me. Now she’s supporting me in a different role. But our friendship is still exactly the same. I look forward to it.”
Kerber is part of an exclusive club of players to have defeated Williams in a grand slam final having done so at the Australian Open in 2016 before the American got her revenge at SW19.
Williams leads their head-to-head 6-2 overall, and she said: “The last Wimbledon I won was against her, but this is a different one. She’s playing so well. I think she’s incredibly confident. I have to be ready for the match of my life.”
The German beat Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 6-3 in their semi-final and is one win away from a third grand slam triumph.
Her previous trophy successes – at the Australian Open and US Open – came in the same glorious 2016 season as her first run to the final at the All England Club.
The form of two years ago sent Kerber to world No 1 and she is again playing at a similarly high level after a horror 2017.
“Wimbledon is a really special place. I think everybody knows this tournament. It would be really special to win,” she said.
“But it’s still a long way off. I know that I have to play my best tennis in the final.
“For sure it’s really special. I know it will be a full house there. The atmosphere will be amazing. I’m looking forward to having the feeling again.”
Jamie Murray remains on course to defend the mixed doubles title – but a British pair could scupper his hopes.
The Scot and his partner Victoria Azarenka reached the semi-finals with a 4-6 7-5 7-5 victory over Dutch duo Jean-Julien Rojer and Demi Schuurs playing on Court One.
They will face British youngsters Jay Clarke and Harriet Dart in the last four after the wild-card entrants beat 10th seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia and American Abigail Spears 7-6 (12/10) 7-5.
But there was disappointment in the men’s doubles, Dominic Inglot and partner Franko Skugor bowing out 6-3 6-1 6-7 (11/13) 6-7 (4/7) 6-4 to Americans Jack Sock and Mike Bryan.
In the other semi-final Britain’s Joe Salisbury and Danish partner Frederik Nielsen were beaten by 13th seeds Michael Venus and Raven Klaasen 7-6 (8/6) 3-6 6-3 6-4.