Simona Halep described reaching her first Wimbledon final as one of the best moments of her life.
The seventh seed, who will take on Serena Williams on Saturday, produced a fine display to beat Elina Svitolina 6-1 6-3 in just an hour and 13 minutes and become the first Romanian woman to make the singles showpiece at the All England Club.
Speaking to the BBC after walking off Centre Court, Halep said: “It is an amazing feeling. I am very excited and nervous. It was one of the best moments of my life.”
It will be Halep’s fifth grand slam final and comes just over a year after she won her first major title at the fourth attempt at the French Open.
It was a particularly proud moment for the 27-year-old’s mother Tania, with Halep saying: “I talked to my mom after the match. About 10, 15 years ago she said her dream is (for Halep) to play the final in Wimbledon because everyone is here, the Royal Box.
“So today her dream came true. I will play a final. It’s very special this moment. To be able to play Wimbledon final, it’s pretty amazing. I will enjoy for sure.”
Halep has only won one of her previous 10 matches against Williams but few have been one-sided and their fourth-round clash at the Australian Open in January was one of the best of the year.
“I played many matches against her,” she said. “Many of them were very close. Now, if I face her, I will believe that I have my chance to win.
“Of course, I respect a lot what she has done and what she’s doing. But now I feel stronger mentally facing her. It’s just a big challenge for me.”
Although both Halep and Svitolina have been top-10 stalwarts for several years, this was in many ways an unexpected semi-final clash.
Neither has been in good form, Halep dropping from world number one at this time last year to seven now, while Svitolina has struggled with a knee injury.
Both are more at home on slower surfaces, meanwhile, and there was a certain irony that, after trying for so long to overcome the quarter-final hurdle at a slam, Svitolina should finally do so on grass.
Both players are counter-punchers and they dragged each other all over Centre Court during two mammoth games, both eventually won by Halep, that lasted 20 minutes.
Svitolina got on the board with a quick break back but it was Halep who seized control of the set thereafter, her extra attacking abilities, particularly her forehand down the line, giving her the edge.
It took her six set points to get over the line but she finally did so with a forehand winner and, after breaking for 4-3 in the second set, she did not look back.
Svitolina felt the start of the match set the tone, saying: “I didn’t take my chances. That was disappointing. In the beginning, you want to play well, you want to make a statement that you are there for the fight.
“But I think she played unbelievable today. She was moving really good, striking the ball perfectly. It’s a little bit of me making poor decisions in some important moments, and then her playing unbelievable which made the score like that.”
The Ukrainian will leave the All England Club with positive feelings, though, after her best slam run.
“If someone would tell me I would play semi-finals in Wimbledon, I’m not sure I would really believe this,” she said. “So for sure I’m disappointed, but lots of things to take, lots of memories.”