Serena Williams put on a superb display of power and athleticism to reach her 30th grand slam singles final.
The 23-time champion, who will equal Margaret Court's all-time record if she beats Angelique Kerber on Saturday, needed just an hour and 10 minutes to defeat Julia Goerges 6-2, 6-4.
Williams, who gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia just over 10 months ago, produced the most impressive display of her comeback and will now attempt to stage a repeat of the 2016 final, when she defeated German Kerber.
"I literally didn't expect to do this well in my fourth tournament back," Williams, who is bidding for an eighth title at Wimbledon said.
"It's not inevitable for me to be playing like this. I had multiple surgeries and nearly didn't make it when I gave birth. I'm enjoying every moment."
Navratilova reaction: The champion at her best
"It's like she's not feeling the pressure as much. Life has taken a different turn. She can relax. She's playing amazing tennis and it's like she's never been away."
Serena Williams' 30 Grand Slam finals
Aus Open - 8
Roland Garros - 4#Wimbledon - 10
US Open - 8
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) July 12, 2018
Williams to face Kerber in face
So there we have it, a repeat of the 2016 Wimbledon final. Williams won that showdown 7-5, 6-3. Anyway, here comes Serena.
"It's crazy. I don’t even know how to feel because I literally didn’t expect to do this well in my fourth tournament back in 16 months. I just feel when I don't have anything to lose I can play so free and that’s kind of what I'm doing
"It’s not inevitable for me to be playing like this. I had multiple surgeries and nearly didn’t make it when I gave birth.
"I remember when I couldn't even walk to my mailbox, so it's definitely not normal to be in a Wimbledon final. I’m enjoying every moment."
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 12, 2018
Williams* 6-2, 6-4 Goerges
Williams is steaming and she's not about to allow Goerges to recover this set. The German floats a forehand into the tramlines in a panic as Williams advances 0-30. A double fault with Serena creeping in to batter the second serve move her to three match points. Goerges does her best to keep fighting but sends a lob just long. Ten and a half months after giving birth to daughter Olympia, and she is through to the Wimbledon final. GAME, SET AND MATCH: WILLIAMS BEATS GOERGES 6-2, 6-4 TO REACH FINAL
Williams 6-2, 5-4 Goerges* (* denotes next server)
Goerges had generated the most break points of all today's semi-finalists but she hasn't had a look in today. But wait, there could be pressure here as a double fault takes the German to 0-30. Williams advances to the net for the first time this match and it doesn't pay dividends as Goerges passes her for three break points. Scrub that what I said about not having a chance on Williams' serve. Williams saves the first, curling a backhand cross court, Goerges misses a backhand on the next but Goerges hits a well-timed service return which beats Williams hands down on the baseline. Game on? GOERGES BREAKS.
Williams* 6-2, 5-3 Goerges (* denotes next server)
Goerges rushing now as she strikes into the tramlines to hand Serena a free point. She gets her head back together quickly to turn it round to 40-15 but then strikes a backhand into the middle when sent out wide by Williams. A body serve gets her over the line and makes Williams serve for the match.
Williams 6-2, 5-2 Goerges* (* denotes next server)
Williams on fire now, finding all spots of the court and making Goerges work hard for every point. Williams' serve out wide keeps opening up enough space for the American to hit through a winner on the reply and a fifth ace moves her to three game points. She's cruising now.
Interesting take from Hantuchova whom Kerber prefers to play. She says it’s Serena. The reason? Girls want to be the only star from their country... pic.twitter.com/hqAuc1TycE
— Diano Eko (@tennis_updates) July 12, 2018
Williams* 6-2, 4-2 Goerges (* denotes next server)
Goerges was broken at the same stage in the first set and that might be playing on her mind as she slips to 0-30 down courtesy of some sloppy serving. A kicked serve helps her survive one point and when Williams unsuccessfully challenges a ball on the baseline, Goerges pegs her back to 30-all. Williams puts the heat back on the 13th seed in a flash chasing down a wide ball to strike a winner for break point. And her attempts at catching Serena cold with a delicate drop shot don't pay off as she loops the ball into the tape. The game looks up now. WILLIAMS BREAKS.
Williams 6-2, 3-2 Goerges* (* denotes next server)
Williams has been dominant on her serve all afternoon so far, winning 92% of points on her first serve. It's another hold to love.
Williams* 6-2, 2-2 Goerges (* denotes next server)
Goerges draws a loud groan from Williams as the American fails to get her racket to an outswinging first serve. A kicked serve sets up her for a forehand winner down the line for 40-15 and that's better control and pressure from the German. A booming first serve down the T completes a comfortable hold.
Williams 6-2, 2-1 Goerges* (* denotes next server)
Ooh. How's your luck. Williams slaps a groundstroke which spins up off the chalk and throws Goerges completely off balance and out of reach behind the baseline. Williams holds up her hand to apologise en route to her own service hold to love.
Williams* 6-2, 1-1 Goerges (* denotes next server)
A solid hold for Goerges to love. Just what the doctor ordered.
Williams 6-2, 1-0 Goerges* (* denotes next server)
Goerges gets Williams moving during the second point of the second set. It works to the German's advantage and that's the tactics she has to approach if she is to find a way back into proceedings. She does her best at 30-15 but then goes for the killer shot and pushes wide. It was good but she'll have to be clinical to challenge Williams if she isn't to be steam-rolled.
Serena's biggest 1st serve here - 122 mph (196 kph) - is the same as Djokovic's
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) July 12, 2018
Williams* 6-2 Goerges (* denotes next server)
Williams in the groove, turning defence into attack at the appropriate moment to turn up the heat on Goerges. She steps into a second slower serve and gives it short shrift hitting a booming backhand winner for 0-30. The pressure is on Goerges now. A double fault hands Williams three set points and from a controlled start, the German is unravelling. Williams takes the opening set after 33 minutes as Goerges strikes into the tramlines after a lengthy rally. WILLIAMS WINS FIRST SET.
Williams 5-2 Goerges* (* denotes next server)
You just get the sense that Williams' level is on the rise this set. There's a lengthy hold up as Williams challenges a Goerges return which the American is confident is long. There was no over-rule and the players have to wait an age for HawkEye to kick into gear and show the replay. The big screen finally wakes up to show Williams was on the money. She comfortably cements the break to 15.
Williams* 4-2 Goerges (* denotes next server)
For a first grand slam semi-final, Goerges has looked very controlled on Centre Court. She's not being rushed by Williams and dictating play at her own pace. Williams fancies her chances at 30-all and there's a first real big moment for the German now as Williams pins her into the corner and Goerges can only loop her forehand wide. Williams injects pace into the rally and it unsettles Goerges who spills a forehand down the tramlines. WILLIAMS BREAKS.
Williams 3-2 Goerges* (* denotes next server)
Williams settling into her own service rhythm now as an ace and then serve and forehand winner ease her to 30-0. Goerges composes herself to strike a forehand winner down the line and then blasts a service return flashing past the American. Williams moves into another gear to win two straight points, the second with a backhand winner to edge back in front. It's a competitive opening set.
Williams* 2-2 Goerges (* denotes next server)
Great serving from Goerges as an ace is followed by a body serve as she races to three game points. She was in this position the last service game only to be reeled in. She only concedes one point as variety on her serve keeps her level in the set. She's holding her own so far.
Williams 2-1 Goerges* (* denotes next server)
Williams working Goerges at the baseline, stretching the German out wide for a 30-0 lead. A smashing service return allows Goerges to get on the board this service game before Williams hands her a free point with a double fault. Goerges moves Williams at the baseline during the next rally and it pays off as the American strikes into the tape for deuce. Williams struggling with her first serves in order to close out this game. But an ace and now finally a first serve keep the set ticking along.
Julia Görges looking quite comfortable out there so far in her 1st Grand Slam semifinal. Very well-liked by her peers on the WTA Tour
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) July 12, 2018
Williams* 1-1 Goerges (* denotes next server)
Solid service start now from Goerges who backs up a serve down the T with a winner and then steps in to dispatch a short ball for three game points. A double fault allows Williams her first point off the German's serve and Williams strikes deep with a slower second serve to keep the pressure on the 13th seed.
A great challenge from Williams allows the 23-times grand slam champion recover from 40-0 down to set up an early break point. But superb defensive work from Goerges saves the danger. She backs it up with a backhand winner down the line and then fires down an ace. A good recovery.
Williams 1-0 Goerges* (* denotes next server)
Williams starts as smoothly and clinically as expected, sending down a first ace for game points at 40-15. A dragged backhand into the tramlines keeps Goerges in the first game, but Williams comfortably gets over the line.
Goerges light on support
There won't be much support for Goerges in her players' box this afternoon. The 29-year-old hasn't travelled with any family and will only have her coach and physio acting as her cheerleading squad. In keeping with her routine, she likes to keep things strictly business. "I don't actually talk to my family that much about tennis," she says.
Here come the players
An interval of around 30 minutes between the semi-finals has at at least allowed the Centre Court crowd a chance to dip out and grab some refreshments and ready themselves for the second semi-finals.
The first match-up between Williams and Goerges lasted just 55 minutes. That was way back at the 2010 French Open but the German is yet to take a set off Williams in three matches against her.
Will Goerges set up all-German final?
History is on the line for Goerges. Not only would victory see the 29-year-old reach her first grand slam final but she would also set up the first all-German final in the Open Era and the second in women's tennis history. The only previous occasion was the 1931 final between Cilly Aussem and Hilde Kranwinkel.
Winner to face Kerber in final
We now know who the winner of this semi-final will face on Saturday. The 11th seed Angelique Kerber saw off an erratic Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 after just an hour and seven minutes on court. Here's the report.
Can Goerges spring an upset and reach maiden major final?
When the seeds kept tumbling at Wimbledon last week the growing feeling was that the trophy was bound to end up in Serena Williams' arms again for an eighth time at the All England Club.
That mentality shifted slightly when Williams dropped her first set of the championships in the quarter-finals against Camila Giorgi and following the stunning exit of overwhelming men's favourite Roger Federer yesterday, which proved the unthinkable can happen.
While it's unfair on the other players to merely write off their chances of challenging Williams, it's also slightly arbitrary to say the American can sweep all in her path given it is only her second grand slam since returning from maternity leave with her daughter still not a year old.
Williams faces first-time grand slam semi-finalist Julia Goerges today for a place in her ninth Wimbledon final. Goerges was shell-shocked after defeating Kiki Bertens on Tuesday and must forget who is starring across the net at her if she is to cause a sensational upset.
The German 13th seed was overawed by Williams in their last meeting last month at the French Open third round. Goerges was beaten 6-3, 6-4 but at least managed to ace the American 11 times in that match. That could be key to today's match-up. Goerges and Williams lead the aces count this fortnight and, for a player who suffered five first-round losses at Wimbledon before this year, must serve effectively to stand a chance today.