Since Serena Williams made her return from a hiatus to birth her first child Olympia, she has struggled to regain her winning habit in tournaments. However, the 38-year-old seems closer than ever now to her best form.
Her last title came at the Australian Open in 2017 just before announcing her pregnancy.
With an almost flawless 6-1, 6-1 win over fellow American Amanda Anisimova, the 23-time Grand Slam champion has booked her spot in the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand. It took her only 43 minutes to down the 18-year-old.
In the final, Serena will take on world number 82 Jessica Pegula, who defeated Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 earlier.
Serena’s route to the final
Camila Giorgi: 6-3, 6-2
Christina McHale: 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
Laura Siegemund: 6-4, 6-3
Amanda Anisimova: 6-1, 6-1
Interestingly, Serena will also be playing in the doubles’ final of the same tournament alongside close friend Caroline Wozniacki, who will be retiring after the Australian Open.
This means the former world number one will be playing in the finals of both singles and doubles of the same tournament for the 12th time in her career, but for only the first time since Wimbledon 2016.
She has achieved the singles-doubles title sweep 10 out of those 12 times.
After losing three consecutive finals last season at Wimbledon, the Rogers Cup and US Open, this is the Serena’s chance to begin the 2020 season on a high. It could also give her motivation to push again for that elusive 24th Grand Slam title to match Margaret Court’s record for most Grand Slam singles titles.
The current world number ten has struggled in all the finals she has reached since her return to court in February 2018, but this might just be the easiest of the lot considering Pegula’s ranking.
Of course, the 25-year-old American will be no pushover but it would be a huge cause for concern if Serena lost to her too.
Serena’s mental strength will be the key to capturing this title as it seems that has been a major obstacle for her in the finals she has played since her return.
She is already one of the favourites to lift this year’s Australian Open title, but winning the ASB Classic will make her even more so.