STANFORD, Calif. -- After needing nearly a year to recover from surgery, Serena Williams is playing like a champion again.
Williams moved into the final of the Bank of the West Classic with an impressive 6-1, 6-2 victory over Germany's Sabine Lisicki on Saturday night.
"I feel like a kid again," Williams said. "When I was younger I had the goal of being in the top 100, then qualifying for a Grand Slam without a wild card. I have those goals again."
It's her first appearance in a final since winning the title at Wimbledon last year and her first final on American soil since losing to Victoria Azarenka in Miami in March of 2009.
The unseeded and 169th-ranked Williams will meet third-seeded and ninth-ranked Marion Bartoli of France, who advanced when Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova withdrew from the other semifinal because of a strained abdominal muscle.
Bartoli beat Williams in the fourth round at Wimbledon, their last meeting.
"She should be fresh and I will be ready," Williams said. "It's a whole new match and I'm a better player than I was at Wimbledon. This is great progress and I'm excited about my potential as I go forward."
Lisicki played tight in the first set, which fed into Williams' aggressive attack.
"I have never played her before so I did not know what to expect," Lisicki said. "I'm not used to having the ball come back at me so hard. It was a new experience, a learning experience."
Williams was able to stay away from making too many mistakes, enabling her to play a strong ground game.
"I have to be more consistent and I want to make fewer mistakes," Williams said. "I was trying to go for the shots when it's right."
Lisicki, like Williams, is coming back from an extended period away from the tour, missing five months last year because of a left ankle injury.
"I came out not playing well," she said. "The important part for me was starting to play better in the second set. I don't know when the comeback ends. I just want to keep going."
Cibulkova said the injury has been bothering her all week.
"It was painful when I played Marina (Erakovic), but I was able to get through that match," she said. "I thought it would be better in the morning, but I saw a doctor and he recommended not playing since the injury could worsen."
Cibulkova had the same problem earlier in the year, missing two tournaments after getting through the quarterfinal at Madrid.
"Maybe I rushed to play too quick," she said. "I don't want to make the same mistake."
Cibulkova still plans to travel to San Diego, where she is scheduled to play Wednesday.
"It's still open and I'm hoping to be ready," she said. "I still have things to do in San Diego."
Cibulkova, playing in her 100th career WTA main draw, is projected to rise from No. 19 to No. 16 in the WTA rankings by reaching the semifinal. She beat qualifier Marina Erakovic 6-1, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.
"It was a great tournament for me," Cibulkova said. "I was looking forward to maybe winning my first tournament. I was so full of confidence."
The ninth-ranked Bartoli reached her fourth final of the year and her third final at Stanford. She won the title in 2009. Bartoli reached the semis when Japan's Ayumi Morita withdrew with an injury after the first set Friday night.
"This has never happened to me but there's not much I can do about it," Bartoli said. "It's a shame Dominika had to be put out. It will be an extremely tough match tomorrow and I need to get ready."