Tennis legend Mats Wilander has criticised Roger Federer's tactical approach in the Wimbledon final, saying the Swiss star was made to pay for playing it safe.
Federer and Djokovic produced an epic five-set final at the All England Club on Sunday that lasted four hours and 47 minutes, with the latter coming out on top of the 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 13-12 (7-3).
However, Federer had match points at 8-7 in the final set as he found himself 40-15 up on his own serve, but he lost the next seven points as the world No 1 produced an incredible turnaround.
Federer adopted similar tactics back in 2012 when he had match point against Andy Murray, but on that occasion the Brit couldn't pass him.
Wilander believes Federer should not have played it safe by serving down the T against Djokovic.
"Djokovic would never have gone for it [the safe serve]," the Swede told L'Equipe.
"It is basic, serve at the weak point of your opponent.
"In those vital moments, Federer was paying for the years between 2004 and 2007 where he dominated his rivals so much that he never had to play an important game.
"He was not tested enough then, it was too easy for him, so he did not improve tactically.
"Nowadays, however, he's faced with guys like Rafa Nadal and Djokovic, who are the masters in these tactical matters, and he does not play the important points correctly."
US Open organisers have revealed the prize money totals for this year's tournament, with an eight per cent increase coming into effect across the board.
The US Open will be handing out $57 million (£45.5 million) in prize money at this year's tournament and the men's and women's winners will each walk away with a cheque of $3,850,000 (£3,074,128).
There is an increase of eight per cent in this year's prize fund and the $57m total puts it well ahead of the $47,583,600 (£38,000,000) that was offered by Wimbledon a few weeks back.
"The US Open prides itself on offering the best tennis players in the world, the richest total prize money in our sport," said Patrick Galbraith, United States Tennis Association Chairman of the Board and President.
"We strive to be innovative, and feel that our new contribution of $500,000 to the ATP's player programs including its pension and the WTA Tour's transition programs for players will go a long way toward the long-term financial well-being of all of our sport's athletes."
The men's and women's winners' prize is up by $50,000 (£39,900) from last year, but there are increases across the board as the runners-up will each receive $1,900,000 (£1,5m), also up by $50,000.
Players who lose in the first round will return home with a $58,000 (£46,000) and those who win just one match will now earn $100,000 (£80,000).
As for the doubles, each winning team will receive $740,000 (£591,000) with the runners-up taking home $370,000 (£30,000).
Teenage star Coco Gauff could be handed a surprise wildcard entry to the US Open despite being ineligible due to WTA regulations.
Gauff shot to prominence after beating Venus Williams at Wimbledon, before losing to eventual winner Simona Halep in the quarter-finals.
WTA rules state that a player is not meant to receive more than three wildcards in their 15th year and Gauff has already reached that marker.
But the United States Tennis Association are hoping to find a way to bypass that ruling by claiming it is a major and not part of the regular tour.
"We would expect to see Coco in the main draw of the US Open," USTA director of communications Chris Widmaier told the New York Post.
"She certainly won the hearts of tennis fans in our country with her Wimbledon performance. It's not every day an athlete of her age becomes water-cooler talk."
2019 Wimbledon singles winners Simona Halep and Novak Djokovic heaped praise on each other in the aftermath of SW19.
Djokovic beat Roger Federer in the longest ever Wimbledon final to win his fifth crown, and his 16th Grand Slam title overall.
And the Serb is a player that Halep says she is keen to learn from, with one particular trait especially catching her eye.
“I have to ask him how he’s done it,” Halep said of Djokovic at the Champions’ Dinner.
“He’s a great champion. I always learn from champions and try to improve as much as possible.
“Being relaxed on court, I’ve learned there’s a greater chance to win big matches.”
Djokovic was keen to reciprocate the respect and admiration, hailing Halep’s maturity into arguably the best women’s player in the world over the last couple of years.
“She’s got it all – she’s got the game, she’s got the fighting spirit and now she’s got the experience,” he said.
“It was really impressive how she handled herself in her first Wimbledon final against an all-time great, Serena, who is a fierce competitor, who has won Wimbledon titles many, many times before.
“She has been in that position many times before. Simona showed why she’s a great champion.
“It’s awesome to know that small countries like Romania and Serbia – neighboring countries – are doing so well on the world stage.”
Karen Khachanov has set some lofty goals for the ATP's young guns.
The Russian has risen to number eight in the current world rankings.
That’s despite a few months of struggle after he changed his racket following his capture of the Paris Masters crown last season, which he won after beating Novak Djokovic in the final.
And, after switching back to his old racket and rediscovering his form, Khachanov is setting some lofty goals for himself.
“It would be great to be able to secure my place in the top-ten, considering that I did not start the season well,” Khachanov told RBC Sport.
“Last year my goal was to finish in the top 20, and I finished 11th. If you can end up with a better goal than you proposed, then even better, but you can not take anything for granted because everything can change in a tournament.
“I would love to be able to meet my goals while the big three continues to play. I am happy to play against them in several tournaments, having won against Djokovic in Paris.
“Yes, they are the ones who win the Grand Slams, but if you notice, [Alexander] Zverev, [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, [Daniil] Medvedev, these players are the ones who are already in the top ten with the rest of the legends.
“We are at a good level and I do not think we are that far from them, but we cannot relax for a moment.”
Naomi Osaka may be woefully out of form, but the two-time grand slam winner is still hungry for success.
The world number two burst onto the scene last year after winning the US Open against Serena Williams, and she backed that up by taking the Australian Open four months later too.
She has often appeared to be something of a difficult character to figure out, with flashes of vulnerability peeking through spells of seemingly impenetrable strength.
Now, though, Osaka has attempted to explain a little more about where her drive to succeed in tennis comes from.
“My parents weren’t exactly the richest, so what am I going to do?” Osaka told Allure magazine.
“I’m not really the smartest. I’ve been playing tennis my whole life, you know? So there’s nothing I can imagine myself doing.
“It’s either I have to be the best or I’m going to be homeless.”
Osaka has struggled on the court since winning back-to-back Grand Slams and reaching world number one, but it’s appeared to be more of a mental issue than an ability one.
And that’s something that she can certainly agree with.
“There’s a certain point where talent isn’t useful anymore, and from there you’ve just got to want to win more than everyone else,” she added.
“I think that’s something I noticed from an early age, so that’s what I’ve been fortunate with.
“I mean, the way that I grew up and the circumstances that sort of surrounded me kind of forced me to think that way.”
New Wimbledon champion Simona Halep is eager to a an Olympic gold medal to a growing trophy collection.
Halep became Romania’s first Wimbledon singles champion on Saturday when she beat 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 in a one-sided women’s final at the All England Club.
It means she is now a two-time major winner, having also won the French Open in 2018, and while others might put a Career Grand Slam next on their list, the 27-year-old wants to win a medal for her country.
“An Olympic medal,” she said. “I said that at the beginning of the year and I still keep it.
“I want to win any medal in the Olympics to fulfill everything I have done in tennis. It is a chance to play for my country. I have always loved to do that, playing in all the Fed Cup matches.
“The disappointment from this year [when Romania lost to France in the Fed Cup semi-finals] really hurt me, so to play to well to get a medal, it would be a dream.”
The Wimbledon crowd didn’t give Novak Djokovic the love he deserved after his epic victory over Roger Federer in the final, but Boris Becker hopes that will change next year.
Djokovic beat Roger Federer in a gripping final at SW19 on Sunday to not only win his fifth Wimbledon trophy, but also take his Grand Slam tally to 16.
It means he is now just four adrift of Federer’s record of 20 and two behind second-placed Rafael Nadal.
While Djokovic took the trophy home, most of the people inside Centre Court were rooting for Federer and Djokovic admitted afterwards that “when the crowd is chanting ‘Roger’ I hear ‘Novak'”.
Becker believes the World No 1 deserves more recognition and that his greatness is not being fully recognised.
“Novak is not quite happy yet. He’s one of the greatest of all of time but he wants to be the greatest of all time,” he told BBC Sport.
He added: “I hope next year, if they played again, it would be more even.
“He came into the party that was the Roger and Rafa party and he became the party pooper. Now, after 16 majors, people have got to wake up to the greatness of Novak Djokovic.”
Novak Djokovic sees no reason why he can't carry on playing for as long as Roger Federer and create his own Grand Slam record history.
Djokovic outlasted Federer in a five-set marathon at the All England Club on Sunday to win his fifth Wimbledon title and 16th Grand Slam overall and cement his place at the top of the world rankings.
It means he is only two majors behind second-placed Rafael Nadal and four behind all-time record holder Federer.
Djokovic has been chasing both men down with a vengeance in recent years, winning four of the last five Grand Slams, with only Nadal preventing a total sweep at the French Open in June.
Asked about the possibility of matching Federer’s tally, Djokovic said: “Those two guys are probably one of the biggest reasons I still compete at this level. The fact that they made history of this sport motivates me as well, inspires me to try to do what they have done, what they’ve achieved, and even more.
“Whether I’m going to be able to do it or not, I don’t know. I’m not really looking at age as a restriction of any kind. What I said on the court, I really meant it: Roger really inspires me with his effort at his age.
“It just depends how long I’m going to play, whether I’m going to have a chance to make historic number one (most weeks ranked number one) or Slams.
“It depends not only on myself, it depends on circumstances in life. I’m not just a tennis player, I’m a father and a husband. You have to balance things out.”
Roger Federer admits he needs as much time as he can get in order to pick himself up for the US Open after Sunday's Wimbledon heartbreak.
The 37-year-old was defeated in an epic Wimbledon final on Centre Court, finally falling in a fifth-set tiebreak after five hours with the scores locked at 2-2 and 12-12.
Federer had two championship points in the fifth set to clinch his ninth Wimledon title, but squandered them both.
"I don't know what I feel right now... I can't believe it," said Federer.
"You just always try to push yourself to see things on the better side. But it was definitely tough to have those chances."
While it will take some time to recover from such an anguished defeat, Federer is confident he'll be adequately prepared for the US Open, having played the clay court season for the first time in three years.
He plans to skip the Rodgers Cup which starts August 3, before returning to the tour a week later for the Cincinnati Open.
“There’s a lot of positives to take away from the journey I’ve been on for the past few months,” Federer said following the loss to Djokovic.
“I mean, looking ahead, we had decided in the team that I was going to skip Montreal anyway already a week ago, and just give myself enough time – I wish I had more, but I don’t.
“So I’m just going to take enough time off, what I can, and then prepare for Cincinnati and get going from then on again.”
Djokovic's victory saw him close to within four Slams of Federer's all-time record, and while the Swiss ace knows his record is now in jeopardy, he insists he's not concerned about it.
"It used to be a really, really big deal, I guess when you were close," Federer said.
"I guess two behind, then eventually you tie, then eventually you break. That was big.
"It's been different since, naturally because the chase is in a different place.
"I take motivation from different places. Not so much from trying to stay ahead because I broke the record, and if somebody else does, well, that's great for them. You can't protect everything anyway."
Novak Djokovic has revealed the mental and emotional toll he suffered during his epic Wimbledon final win over Roger Federer.
The World No 1 successfully defended his Wimbledon crown in a five-hour thriller against the Swiss legend, which saw Federer squander two match points in the fifth set before the match finally went Djokovic's way following a tie-breaker at 12-12.
It was the longest, and arguably best, Wimbledon final in history, and Djokovic admitted it left him physically and mentally exhausted.
“It was a huge relief in the end, honestly,” Djokovic told reporters.
“These kind of matches, you work for, you live for, they give sense and they give value to every minute you spend on the court training and working to get yourself in this position and play the match with one of your greatest rivals of all time.
“It was probably the mentally most demanding match I was ever part of.
“I had the most physically demanding match against [Rafael] Nadal in the finals of Australia that went almost six hours. But mentally this was a different level, because of everything.
“I’m just obviously thrilled and overjoyed. I was one shot away from losing the match. This match had everything. It could have gone easily his way.
“In these kind of moments, I just try to never lose self-belief, just stay calm, just focus on trying to get the ball back, return, which wasn’t serving me very well today.
“But, in the most important moments, all three tie-breaks I guess, I found my best game.”
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer put on a show for the ages at SW19, with the Serb emerging victorious after nearly five hours on Centre Court in Wimbledon's longest ever final.
The word epic is often overused when tennis matches go the distances, but for once that word is appropriate as Djokovic and Roger Federer slugged it out for four hours and 57 minutes on Centre Court on Sunday.
The final score was 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 13-12 (7-3) with so many twists and turns.
At the age of 37, Federer is never going to be able to challenge Djokovic when it came to covering ground, but he more than made up for it with his experience and tactics.
The Swiss Maestro looked to be in charge of the first set as he made all the play, but the world No 1 held firm and it went to the tie-breaker and suddenly the momentum shifted early with a mini break for the Serb.
Federer, though, had his moments as he broke back and then led 5-3, but Djokovic came charging back and won the set.
The omens were against Federer as his record against Djokovic was not good after going down a set.
But the comeback was brutal as Federer dispatched him 6-1 in the second set. Sure, the Serb was misfiring, but the pressure from the other hand was often too hot to handle as Federer broke three times.
Having conserved his energy during the latter stages of the second set, Djokovic was more than up to it again in the third set as he slugged it out with the Swiss Master again.
Federer produced the classy shots, but Djokovic continued to chase down every ball and saved a set point in game 10 as it eventually went to the tie-breaker.
Again Federer shanked the first point in the tie-breaker and never really recovered from two mini breaks and suddenly the Serb was two sets to one up.
And so to a fourth set it went and much like the second, Federer came out hard and the break eventually came in game five and then he got the security of a second break two games later to go 5-2 up.
He needed that second break as Djokovic hit back immediately, but finally got the job done at the second time of asking as he served it out.
Both were visibly starting to feel the effects of spending more than three hours on court and there were glimpses for both to break early on before world No 1 finally made the most of some loose Federer shots to go 4-2 up.
Instead of making it 5-3, it was 4-3 as Federer upped the ante to hit back immediately. And he had another look-in in the next game at 15-30, but missed a forehand and it was 4-4 in the blink of an eye.
And so to 7-7 we went and suddenly Djokovic misfired again and Federer had a break point and a cross-court winner meant he had the chance to serve it out.
It wasn’t going to be so easy, was it? Federer found himself with two Championship points, but the Serb was all over him after that and we were back on level terms.
To the new fifth-set tie-breaker it went and again Djokovic got an early mini-break and he made no mistake on his second Championship point to secure his fifth Wimbledon title and move to 16 Grand Slam titles.
His latest major puts him four adrift of Federer and two behind Rafael Nadal.
It was a short and sweet answer from Serena Williams, but she left no uncertainty about her continued fight for equality.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner has always been at the forefront when it comes to gender and racial equality, even more so since returning to competitive tennis after giving birth to her daughter in 2017.
On the court it hasn’t really clicked since she has returned from maternity leave, in finals at least, as she lost in two Wimbledon finals and one US Open one.
Her latest final defeat saw her go down 6-2, 6-2 against Simona Halep at the All England Club on Saturday.
Before the match the great Billie Jean King suggested the American should focus more on her tennis.
“She’s got a baby, she’s trying to help gender equity, particularly women of colour. But it makes it much harder,” King told the BBC.
“I would like her to put everything else aside, because she’s got people working on those things.
“I wish she would just make a commitment for the next year and a half to two years and say, ‘I’m going to absolutely focus on what’s necessary for my tennis, so when I look in the mirror when I’m older, then I can go back in my mind and know I gave it everything I had.'”
It prompted a question from a journalist about whether or not she should change her focus, but Williams answered it quite brilliantly.
“The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me, will be the day I am in my grave,” the 37-year-old said.
Serena Williams fell short of equalling Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record after Simona Halep produced a stunning performance to claim her first Wimbledon crown.
Halep was in top form heading into Saturday's blockbuster final on Centre Court, but few could have predicted just how dominant she would turn out to be.
The diminutive Romanian completely neutralised Williams' big serve and powerful ground strokes as she moved all around the court with grace and skill.
With barely an unforced error in sight, Halep's relentless onslaught was simply too much for the 37-year-old Williams to handle.
Halep wrapped up the first set inside half an hour after two early breaks saw her race to a 4-0 lead, and then resisted a particularly ferocious Williams onslaught early in the second set before taking control with two more breaks to seal a famous 6-2, 6-2 victory in just 56 minutes.
It is a second successive Wimbledon disappointment for Williams, who last year fell at the final hurdle against Angelique Kerber. It was also her third Grand Slam defeat out of three since returning to tennis following the birth of her daughter.
The defeat leaves Williams on 23 career Grand Slam titles, one shy of Court’s all-time record, but she will be backing her chances at the upcoming US Open after vanquishing concerns over the knee injury that has kept her out for most of the year.
As for Halep, it's her second Grand Slam title following her French Open victory last year, but it is the manner of the victory that was so impressive, suggesting the 27-year-old is only now reaching the best form of her career.
It was my best match," said Halep, who appeared to be in disbelief after clinching match point. "Serena has always inspired us so thanks for that. it was the first time in front of the Royal Box.
"I had nerves! My stomach was not very well before I came out on court. But I just concentrated on doing my best.
"It was my mum's dream. she said when I was 10 that if I want to do something in tennis it is to play in the Wimbledon final.
"I told people in the locker room that if I win I will get membership for life, it was one of the motivations for me.
"I have changed my game a bit to win more matches on the grass and this year I felt more that I could do more with the ball and I cannot wait to get back next year."
Rafael Nadal admitted he was beaten by the better man on the day, as he paid tribute to old foe Roger Federer following their gruelling semi-final battle at Wimbledon.
The Spaniard has been in rock-solid form leading up to this year's Championships at SW19, and was well-fancied heading into their clash on Centre Court.
However, it was Federer who emerged with the win after four punishing sets and three energy-sapping hours, and Nadal was happy enough to give him credit for it – while lamenting his own misfiring backhand.
“I think his return was better than my one this afternoon. I didn’t receive well today," said the Spaniard.
“When that happens, he’s in advantage, he’s in the control of the match generally because you feel little bit more under pressure than him.
“I think today the backhand didn’t work as good as in the previous rounds. I was little bit too worried about my backhand, so I was not able to move with freedom to the forehand.
“I was a little bit too worried about not missing with the backhand. When that happens against player like him, is so difficult. As I said, I think he played aggressive, he played a great match, and just well done for him.”
Asked what he thought of Federer's quality and abilities at the ripe old age of 37, Nadal replied: "The same like all my career, no? He is always able to do the most difficult things easy.
"He's able to move inside the court quicker than anyone.
"He puts pressure on the opponent all the time because he has the ability to take the ball earlier than anybody else.
"That's probably the most difficult thing to make that happen, and he is able to do it so well."
Nadal also admitted that the loss was definitely a tough one to take, and that his chances of capturing a third Wimbledon title just got a little less likely.
"I am sad for the loss because for me it was another opportunity," he said.
"But at the same time I created another opportunity to be in another final of a Grand Slam.
"Just accept that was not my day. I played a great event. I take this in a positive way.
"At the same time, today is sad because for me I know chances are not forever.
"Last year I had chances here (he lost in five sets to Djokovic in the semi-final), I had another one, and I was not able to convert to win it one more time here."
Friday's blockbuster semi-final at Wimbledon lived up to expectations as Roger Federer secured a thrilling four-set victory over Rafael Nadal to keep his hopes of a 21st Grand Slam title alive.
The 37-year-old Swiss star continued to defy his advanced years as he outduelled and outrallied his tenacious Spanish opponent to secure a 7-6 (7-3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 after three energy-sapping hours on Centre Court.
Eleven years after their last meeting at Wimbledon, the 40th match-up between these two all-time greats proved to be a real treat for tennis fans.
After a cagey, somewhat nervous start from both men, Nadal earned the first break point opportunity in the eighth game, but Federer stood firm before overcoming an early blip in the tie-breaker to win four straight points courtesy of some superb shotmaking to go one set up.
But the disappointment of the first set didn’t keep Nadal down for too long, as he upped the ante at the start of the second. The pressure was unrelenting and it eventually told as Nadal appeared to take control of the contest with two straight breaks to level it up at one set apiece.
But Federer was able to turn the tables again early in the third and found himself 4-1 up in the blink of an eye. He squandered a golden opportunity to make it a double break two games later, but it didn’t matter in the end as he served it out to love, by now frustrating Nadal by winning several long rallies the Spaniard would normally expect to win.
Federer carried that form over to the fourth set, clinching another early break to open a 3-1 lead, and threw the kitchen sink at the Spaniard in game nine as he tried to finish it on the Nadal serve, but his rival was never going to go down without a fight and he was able to save two match points.
It was over to Federer to serve it out but again Nadal saved two match points, producing some sublime shots to fire up the crowd and deny his opponent the victory, but the Spaniard finally relented on the fifth match point, sending a weary backhand long to hand his old foe a famous victory - and a meeting with World No 1 Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final.
“I’m exhausted, it was tough in the end, Rafa played some unbelievable shots to stay in the match. I thought the match was played at a very high level," said an emotional Federer after the match.
“I had spells where I was serving very well and I thought probably the biggest points in the match went my way. I think that first set was huge, try to take the lead and then protect that, but he came back very strong in that second set, but I thought it was a joy to play today.”
On the upcoming final against Djokovic, Federer said: “He’s the defending champion and he showed why this week. He’s been rock solid from start to finish so I hope I can push him to the brink and hopefully beat him, but it’s going to be very difficult as he is not No 1 by chance.”
It wasn't always easy, but Novak Djokovic was ultimately able to see off Roberto Bautista Agut without too much fuss to keep his dream of back-to-back Wimbledon titles alive.
After racing into a one-set lead in dominant fashion, Djokovic surprised everyone by dropping the second set against the Spaniard, but he was soon back in the driving seat again as he raced to a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win in two hours and 48 minutes on Centre Court.
With first-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Bautista Agut struggling to find his rhythm early on, the 15-time major winner took just 37 minutes to win the opening set on the back of two breaks.
But the underdog hit back firmly in the second set courtesy a break in game three and stayed rock solid on serve in the early stages of the third, as he threatened to make a real match of it.
Once the break finally came in the sixth game, though, there was no letting up from the top-ranked Serb, and despite the brave efforts of Bautista Agut, he soon sealed his place in his 25th Grand Slam final.
“This has been the dream tournament when I was a child so to be in another final is a dream come true,” Djokovic said after the match.
“I had to dig deep. He played really well. In the first few games of the third set the match could have gone a different way, but I am glad it went my way.”
Up next for the defending champion, who is looking to win a fifth title at the All England Club, is either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, pending the outcome of their historic semi-final clash.
“Of course I will watch it! I’m a fan of that match-up as well," Djokovic said.
"Federer vs Nadal is one of the most epic rivalries of all time so it is fantastic to see them play today."
Andy Murray has dampened expectations of a quick return to singles action, saying he may need a full year to get back to full fitness.
Andy Murray believes he may need a full year to get back to full fitness, as he dampens down expectations surrounding his return to singles action.
Murray looked in good shape as he played doubles in three grass court tournaments over recent weeks, with his exit from the Wimbledon Mixed doubles alongside partner Serena Williams ending his hopes of a trophy to conclude the first phase of his comeback.
Now he has told the BBC that he will need a lengthy period of recuperation before he considers a return to singles action, as he went into great detail over the medical advice he has been given since his hip resurfacing surgery in January.
“Now my Wimbledon is over, my focus will switch to doing a lot of physical work over the next four to six weeks to improve the strength in my hip,” he stated. “That means a lot of heavy weightlifting in the gym, which is a part of training that I don’t particularly enjoy doing.
“During a hip resurfacing operation, where the head of the femur is capped by metal, a lot of muscles are severed and stitched back up so it takes a lot of time and needs hard physical work to recover properly. That strength is not going to come back in just three or four months, it could take nine or 12 months.
“I need to get those muscles back to a certain level before I can go on a singles court and try to play best of five sets, otherwise I could do damage if the strength isn’t there. I’m happy to be pain-free and want to get my hip as good as it can be, then once it is strong again I can get back to competing.”
Murray went on to suggest he was content with his performances during the grass court season, as he returned to action sooner than many had expected.
“Of course I wanted to go further than the second round in the men’s doubles and the third round in the mixed, but considering how tough the past year has been, it was good to just get out there and play,” he added.
“As I reflect on my return to Wimbledon, my overriding emotion is enjoyment. I was practising at Wimbledon about six or seven weeks ago, hitting on the clay courts and not knowing if I’d be playing during the grass-court season or not.
“They were starting to paint the lines on the court, prepare all the backdrops around the grounds and put all the hospitality tents up – it left me thinking how disappointed I would be if I had to miss the tournament again.
“I was excited to be back playing here and, although I felt nerves and I felt pressure, it was not to the same degree as I usually would playing in the singles.
“What I particularly enjoyed was being around the locker room and having that camaraderie with the other players and the support staff. I know a lot of them really well having been on the tour together for years and it was great to be part of that again.”
Serena Williams had far too much firepower for Barbora Strycova on Friday, as she stayed on course for an eighth Wimbledon title with a dominant straight sets victory on Centre Court.
Williams, who is attempting to equal Margaret Court’s all time Grand Slam record of 24-titles, was in absolutely ruthless mood, losing just three games in the entire match.
Successive breaks in each set saw the American power to a 6-1, 6-2 victory in just 61 minutes, as she became only the second woman after Martina Navratilova to reach 11 Wimbledon finals, with Roger Federer the only male player to reach the same milestone.
“It’s good, especially after my year,” Williams told the BBC after the match. “It definitely feels good to be back in the final.
“It’s definitely a lot better, I just needed some matches. I know I’m improving and I just needed to feel good and then I can do what I do best which is play tennis.
“I love what I do, I wake up every morning and I get to be fit and play sport and play in front of crowds like here at Wimbledon – not everyone can do that.
“I’m still pretty good at what I do and it’s always an amazing experience.”
Williams faces Simona Halep in what is shaping up to a blockbuster final, with both players in top form, having looked a cut above the rest.
A delighted Simona Halep is through to her first ever Wimbledon final after defeating Elina Svitolina in straight sets on Centre Court.
The Romanian seventh seed has been in efficient form during the tournament, and was at her ruthless best against eighth seed Svitolina on the way to a 6-1, 6-3 victory, despite her Ukranian opponent putting up some stern resistance at times.
Halep has never played in a championship match at the All England Club but must now prepare for Saturday’s final, and she is confident she can win it.
“It is an amazing feeling,” she told the BBC.
“I am very excited and nervous, It was one of the best moments of my life and I am trying to enjoy it.
“It is not like the scoreline looks, each game went long and deep, but I am pleased with my tactics and I feel strong mentally and physically.
“I am trying to fight to the end because I really want to win this championships.”
BBC pundit John McEnroe was very impressed with what he saw from Halep against Svitolina, and reckons she will take some beating in the final.
The level of Halep is exceptionally high, it was hard to read where she's going to hit it and she picked her moments to go for drop shots which paid off for her," McEnroe said.
“Svitolina was understandably tight in the beginning, she loosened up and got Halep on her heels a little. The old Halep may have reacted differently but she got herself together.
“Now she seems like she really believes in herself. She doesn’t panic as quickly and she is moving really well on the grass.”