The quest for No. 22 continues on Saturday in Paris.
With her win over 7–6(7), 6–4 win over No. 58 Kiki Bertens in Friday’s semifinals, Serena Williams advanced to her fourth French Open final, where she’ll try for the third time to tie Steffi Graf’s mark of 22 Grand Slam titles after coming up short at the 2015 U.S. Open and this year’s Australian Open. She'll face Spain's Garbine Muguruza, who she beat for her 21st major title at Wimbledon last year, after the Spaniard defeated No. 21-seed Sam Stosur 6–2, 6–4 on Friday.
“I don't think my mindset is any different. Obviously I want to do well and I would like to win tomorrow,” Serena said of her next opponent. “Regardless, I think it will be a good match. I mean, last time we played here in France she was able to win the match. I learned so much from that match. You know, I hate to lose, but when I do, you know, I hope it was worth it. That match was definitely one of those that was kind of needed and worth it.”
Saturday’s French Open final (starting at 9 a.m. ET) will be the fifth meeting between Serena and Muguruza, and the World No. 1 leads their head-to-head 3-1. Muguruza’s only win came in the second round at 2014 French Open, where the Spaniard won 6–2, 6–2 in 62 minutes. The 2016 French Open title match will mark her second Grand Slam final appearance.
“I think that finals have to be played by the best players, and the best player is Serena, which is a good thing. It's a good thing,” Muguruza said. “But it could be Serena; it could be another player. There is not much difference for me, I think.”
The pair’s other meetings came at the 2013 Australian Open in the second round, where then-No. 3-seed Serena beat Muguruza 6–2, 6–0. After Muguruza’s win in 2014 in Paris, they met again in the quarterfinals at the 2015 Australian Open, where Serena needed three sets to advance.
“I think that she and I are players who like dictating the game,” Muguruza said of Serena. “We like dominating the game. If the coaches say that the victory is in the hands of Serena, okay. He's allowed to say that. But I think I'm going to fight for each point. There will be moments when she'll be dominating, and maybe at times I will be dominating.
“I think I can be a tough opponent, too.”
At Wimbledon last year, Muguruza fought hard, taking a 4-2 lead over the top seed and battling back from 5-1 down with two breaks of serve, before Serena was able to pull away.
“It was a first final,” Muguruza said of the Wimbledon 2015 title match. “The opponent was tough to beat. I was tense. It was difficult for me to manage stress. The surface was of course totally different. It's on grass.
“I remember three points that I missed and she took advantage of this, but otherwise I wouldn't say I made a very big mistake.”
En route to the final, No. 4-seed Mugruza defeated Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Myrtille Georges, Yanina Wickmayer, No 13-seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, Shelby Rogers and No. 21-seed Sam Stosur. She has not dropped a set since her opening round match against Schmiedlova.
Serena needed three sets to get past Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva on Thursday in the quarterfinals, but defeated the rest of her opponents in straight sets. In addition to the Muguruza's strong game, Serena will also face the pressure of making history by reaching Graf’s record of 22 major titles on Saturday.
“You know, if I get there it will be great. I guess you can say it took me a while to get to 18, considering I'm the only one on tour that had 18,” she said. “The same with 21 and trying to get to another one. Nothing I can do about it. The only thing can I do is just play to win the tournament and that's it.”
Check back on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. ET for live updates and analysis on the women's final.