Wimbledon 2019: Serena Williams says she can 'never forget' the only match she lost to Simona Halep, wary of her level of tennis

London: There are many reasons why Serena Williams has been successful for as long as she's been. The serve. The returns. The groundstrokes. The court coverage. And more.

A little insight into one aspect of the way she approaches her matches came through her answer to a question looking ahead to Saturday's Wimbledon final against the seventh seed Simona Halep.

Williams, who could collect her eighth title at the All England Club and 24th Grand Slam singles trophy overall, was asked why she's been able to accumulate a 9-1 head-to-head record against the Romanian.

"The biggest key with our matches is the loss that I had. I never forget it. She played unbelievably well," Williams said. "That makes wary that the level she played at — she can get there again. So I have to be better than that."

 Wimbledon 2019: Serena Williams says she can never forget the only match she lost to Simona Halep, wary of her level of tennis

Serena Williams in action. AP

That result came all the way back in 2014, in a relatively inconsequential round-robin meeting at the season-ending championships. Williams soundly beat Halep later at that same tournament and has won their match-up this season, at the Australian Open in January.

Williams enters her 11th final at the All England Club, well aware that she has lost her past two championship matches at Grand Slam tournaments — against Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon and against Naomi Osaka at the U.S. Open, both in 2018.

The latter descended into chaos after Williams was penalized a game for a heated argument with the chair umpire. She said in a first-person essay she wrote for Harper's Bazaar that she met with a therapist and wrote to Osaka to apologize for the whole episode.

As for the loss to Kerber at the All England Club? "I don't remember much. I just remember I was tired and Angie played a great match. I actually was sad, but I was also proud of myself. There was nothing I could do in that match. I did everything I could. Physically I just wasn't there," Williams said on Thursday after winning her semifinal 6-1, 6-2 against Barbara Strycova.

"I remember after that, I just trained to get more fit. So I'm definitely at a different place," Williams said. "Yeah, I didn't have the preparation coming into Wimbledon of training for two weeks, even. So that would have been nice."

She's been dealing with those sorts of issues since returning to the tour last year after taking time off while having a baby. Now her daughter, Olympia, is nearly 2; Williams held her in her arm while cooling down on a stationary bike at the All England Club this week.

After hurting an ankle in the Australian Open quarterfinals, Williams ended up wasting a big lead and exiting. Then she pulled out of matches or missed tournaments entirely because of an illness or a bad left knee.

Following a third-round loss at the French Open on 1 June, Williams underwent treatment in Paris before resuming preparations about one and a half weeks before Wimbledon began.

"I'm in a different place, because I wasn't really playing a month ago, like, at all," said Williams, who thinks her partnership with Andy Murray in mixed doubles at Wimbledon helped her volleying in singles. "So it's all kind of coming together."

That sentiment sounds like it could be trouble for Halep, who is 1-3 in Grand Slam finals so far, with the one title coming at Roland Garros last year. This will be Halep's first final at Wimbledon. The opponent is not ideal.

"I'm desperate to win Wimbledon more than to stop her," said Halep, who defeated Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-3 in the semifinals. "I will focus on myself."

Updated Date: Jul 12, 2019 17:45:38 IST