By Christopher Clarey

New York Times News Service

WIMBLEDON, England — It will be Serena Williams versus Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final Saturday.

Halep will be trying to win her first Wimbledon women’s singles title. Williams will be chasing her eighth, which would also tie the record of 24 Grand Slam singles title held by Margaret Court.

Williams, 37, played one of her finest matches of this often-frustrating season, outplaying and overpowering Barbora Strycova, 6-1, 6-2, in 59 minutes.

Earlier Thursday on Centre Court, Halep became the first Romanian woman to reach a Wimbledon singles final, defeating Elina Svitolina, 6-1, 6-3.

Williams has yet to win a title since she returned to the tour in March 2018 after giving birth to a daughter, Olympia.

But she is now into her third Grand Slam final since her comeback after losing last year to Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon and to Naomi Osaka at the U.S. Open.

But she has rarely hit the ball as cleanly and convincingly under pressure since her return to competition as she did against Strycova, a fiery and resourceful Czech who was playing in her first Grand Slam singles semifinal at age 33.

In four singles matches against Williams, Strycova has yet to win a set.

Halep’s match with Svitolina was full of extended rallies, but Halep’s consistency, marvelous two-handed backhand and deep focus made the difference.

Svitolina, who was playing in her first Grand Slam singles semifinal, and Halep have similar styles. Both are fast with balanced baseline games. Svitolina had won four of their seven previous matches, with Halep winning their most recent duel: a three-setter in the semifinals in Doha this year.

But Halep fought her way through the tight and tense early games and then consistently found a higher gear.

“It’s one of the best moments of my life,” Halep said.

Halep, a former No. 1 and French Open champion, has now reached the finals of three different Grand Slam tournaments: the French Open, the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

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