So many questions for Serena Williams as she prepares to face another proven champion and great defender in a Wimbledon singles final.
Simona Halep, of course, will have her part to play on Saturday, when she goes up against Williams for the first time on Centre Court. Halep, a former No. 1 and the 2018 French Open champion, appears to be back in form, as she demonstrated with a decisive 6-1, 6-3 victory over Elina Svitolina in the semifinals on Thursday.
But the decisive factor in the final is likely to be Williams’s state of mind with Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles back in her sights.
On grass, with her thoughts and shots in order, Williams is an irresistible force even at age 37, as she showed Thursday in her 6-1, 6-2 semifinal demolition of the fired-up but underpowered Barbora Strycova.
But Williams, as recent history shows, is vulnerable when she lets her greater goals and ferocious appetite for another title drown out her ability to focus on the task at hand.
“I definitely feel like I play better when I’m calm,” Williams said after the semifinal win. “But it’s definitely an effort. Not getting over-pumped but at the same time not getting under-wound. I have to be in that right space.”
She was not there during last year’s Wimbledon final, when she lost to Angelique Kerber in straight sets. She was not there during last year’s United States Open final, when she was beaten in straight sets by Naomi Osaka and lost her cool and her way in a dispute with the chair umpire after he issued a warning about signals from her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, in the stands.