On Saturday, Angelique Kerber and Serena Williams will meet in a Grand Slam final for the second time this year, providing the perfect opportunity for Williams to avenge her loss at this year's Australian Open and finally secure her 22nd Grand Slam title.
Williams put in a nearly flawless performance in her 6-2, 6-0 win over Elena Vesnina in the semifinals, and Kerber defeated Venus Williams, 6-4, 6-4.
Williams has reached the finals in seven of the last eight Grand Slams. However, she's been defeated in both of her finals appearances this year, losing the Australian Open and French Open. Per BBC.com, she said, "I can't believe I'm in the final this year. I'm 0-2 this year so I'm determined to win one."
Winning Slam No. 22 has been difficult for Williams. She's been stuck at 21 since she won Wimbledon 2015. Roberta Vinci upset Williams in the semifinals at the 2015 U.S. Open. Kerber pulled off the upset in Melbourne, and Garbine Muguruza outhit Williams to take this year's French Open title.
With No. 2 Muguruza seeded on the opposite side of the draw at Wimbledon, it appeared Williams might get a chance to exact revenge. However, Muguruza fell in the second round.
Now Kerber, who will be the new No. 2 on Monday, is the only player standing in the way of Williams and that elusive 22nd Grand Slam.
It's the perfect setup. Exacting revenge on opponents is a hallmark of Williams' career.
Maria Sharapova shocked the tennis world when she upset Williams at Wimbledon in 2004. Sharapova got one other win over Williams that year but hasn't beaten her since.
Samantha Stosur beat Williams in the final of the 2011 U.S. Open. Stosur is 0-4 against Williams since. (This excludes a walkover Stosur won in Beijing in 2014.)
Sloane Stephens upset Williams at the 2013 Australian Open. Since then, Stephens is 0-4 against Williams.
When Williams gets upset, she gets even. Cross her, and she crosses you off.
Richard Williams recognized this about his daughter at an early age. Williams was 11 years old when her father told Trans World Sport, "Serena plays angry better than any man or any woman I've ever seen play tennis."
These days, Williams is probably more frustrated than anything else. Her run of bad luck in Slams this year is similar to what she went through when trying to win Slam No. 18.
After she finally did it, at the 2014 U.S. Open, Williams talked about the pressure she felt while trying to bring home her 18th title.
"I definitely did not think I was going to win a slam this year," she said, per the Press Association (via the Guardian). "And I even said: 'I'm ready to start next year already. Let’s put this behind me.'"
She'll want to avoid any nervous starts against Kerber. Williams leads the head-to-head 5-2. But the two have never met on grass, where Williams is far more comfortable.
After defeating Venus Williams, Kerber told the WTA's staff, "It's a completely new tournament, a new surface, everything is completely new. I will just go out with a lot of confidence and give everything I can in the final."
Venus is the only player in the WTA Tour's top 20 to have beaten her sister more than four times. Venus, Jennifer Capriati, Victoria Azarenka, Martina Hingis, Justine Henin and Elena Dementieva are the only women to beat Serena Williams four times or more. Serena has winning records against all of them.
That's because Williams detests losing. She often talks about how she hates losing more than she enjoys winning.
She considers losses lessons. She's suffered some tough ones.
Going into the French Open final against Muguruza, Williams talked with Michael Beattie of RolandGarros.com about her loss to the Spaniard in 2014.
"I learned so much from that match," she said. "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."
Yet she was unable to defeat Muguruza. This time, Muguruza, who lost to Williams in the finals at Wimbledon 2015, was the player seeking revenge.
Kerber presents Williams with what she lacked in her last three Grand Slam losses: an opportunity to get even. If she does, she'll also walk away even with Steffi Graf.