Serena Williams beat Julia Görges 6-2, 6-4 in the Wimbledon semifinals today, giving her the chance to play in her 30th major final, win her eighth Wimbledon title, clinch her 24th grand slam, and, oh there they are again, all those futile numbers and stats lined up in an attempt to encapsulate the greatness of the greatest ever. They can’t tell the whole story, of course, but they’re a sturdy enough scaffolding. Just for fun, here are some more:
- 10: The number of months since Serena gave birth to her daughter Olympia
- 4: The number of tournaments (Indian Wells, Miami, French Open, Wimbledon) she’s played since she returned to the tour in March
- 13: The WTA matches Serena has played since coming back
- 310: The number of world ranking spots she’s jumped since March
- 1: The number of sets Serena has dropped so far at Wimbledon
After her win over Görges, Serena, seeded 25th in the tournament, was asked about the idea that her return to the top was inevitable. She rolled her eyes.
“This is not inevitable for me,” she said, alluding to the serious postpartum health problems she faced after giving birth. “I had a really tough delivery and multiple surgeries and almost didn’t make it, to be honest. I couldn’t even walk to my mailbox, so it’s definitely not normal for me to be in a Wimbledon final.”
On the one hand, that rings true. Given how Serena’s year has gone so far— after a dismal showing at the Fed Cup, she won two matches at Indian Wells, lost in the first round at the Miami Open, and then won three matches at the French Open before withdrawing with an injury—a deep Wimbledon run was no sure thing. On the other hand, Serena Williams being back in the Wimbledon final will always feel inexorable, like a settling of the natural order.
When Serena plays Angelique Kerber on Saturday, it will be a rematch of the 2016 Wimbledon final, which Serena won, just as she did in 2015, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2003, and 2002. The current strength and striking parity of women’s tennis led to a historic number of upsets in the early going and may well have paved an easier than usual route to the final for Serena. Nine of the top 10 seeds lost in the opening three rounds, which meant that Serena, seeded 25th, didn’t even face another seed until the semifinals. As far as comebacks go, Serena’s Wimbledon run has been just about the most ideal possible scenario. It seems like a safe bet that she’s not going to squander it.