Serena, Halep roll, advance to Wimbledon final

Halep reaches first Wimbledon final (2:04)

Simona Halep coasts past Elina Svitolina in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, to reach her first Wimbledon final. (2:04)

LONDON -- Serena Williams will play in the Wimbledon final for the 11th time and will be looking for her eighth title at the All England Club. Simona Halep will play in her first Wimbledon final.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, beat Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-2 on Thursday in the semifinals on Centre Court, while Halep defeated Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-3.

"I look forward to it,'' said Williams, who owns a 9-1 career record against Halep.

The 37-year-old American, now the oldest woman to reach the final of a major in the Open era, converted four of her five break points in reaching Saturday's final, while Strycova failed on all three of her chances.

Williams, seeded 11th, lost in last year's final and will be playing in her third Grand Slam event final in a little over a year. She needs one more major title to equal the all-time record of 24 set by Margaret Court.

"To even be in those two finals last year was unbelievable," Williams said. "Now, I'm in a different place. Like, I just am more calm. Instead of having nothing to lose, I feel like I have things to lose, but I also have nothing to lose. It's like I'm in the middle."

She will be making her 32nd appearance in the final of a major, tying Martina Navratilova for second -- men or women -- behind Chris Evert (34).

Awaiting her will be the seventh-seeded Halep, the former world No. 1 whose previous best at the All England Club had been a spot in the semifinals in 2014.

"I'm desperate to win Wimbledon more than to stop her," said Halep, who has pushed Williams to a deciding third set in all three of their matches in a Grand Slam. "I will focus on myself. I'm not thinking about her record."

It's been an up-and-down year for Williams because of illness and injury, limiting her to 12 matches until last week. After a third-round loss at Roland Garros on June 1, she stayed in France for medical treatment and finally felt pain-free while in England preparing for Wimbledon.

"It's definitely a lot better,'' Williams said. "Every match, I know that I'm improving.''

After a three-set struggle against Alison Riske in the quarterfinals Tuesday, Williams was at her dominant best against Strycova, who appeared limited by an issue with her right leg.

As it is, the 33-year-old Strycova was the oldest first-time Grand Slam semifinalist in the professional era. Williams played cleanly, accumulating nearly three times as many winners as unforced errors (28-10) and dropping only three points on her first serve. She was at her usual court-covering best, which helped limit Strycova to 10 winners.

Halep, 27, broke the 24-year-old Svitolina three times in the first set and then again to take a 4-3 lead in the second. She won the match with another break in the final game to become the first Romanian woman to reach the Wimbledon final.

"It was not [as] easy as the score shows,'' said the seventh-seeded Halep, who had a 26-10 edge in winners and dropped only one point on her serve in the second set.

"It's an amazing feeling and I'm really excited -- and also nervous because of this. It's one of the best moments of my life."

Halep won the French Open last year and has reached the final at Roland Garros on two other occasions. She also reached the Australian Open final in 2018.

"There's so many impressive things about her," Williams said of Halep. "I think obviously her tenacity. I think her ability to improve every time, just to keep improving. Her ability to find power. Can't underestimate her. She's like a little powerhouse.

"Obviously, yeah, she finished the year No. 1 twice in a row. I feel like she's back. She wants to prove that she can do it again."

Svitolina, the No. 8 seed, had never been to the final four at any Slam before this tournament.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.