Serena Williams will have a chance to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 women’s singles Grand Slam titles after she powered her way to the final at the 2018 US Open on Thursday.

The American, who holds the Open Era record with 23 titles, will be keen to match the legendary Australian’s feat. Williams dispatched Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-0 in one hour and six minutes to reach her 31st major championship.

The former world number one started slow and was down 2-0 against Sevastova, but there was no turning back once she leveled at 2-2 as the Latvian won just one out of the next 11 games. Williams’ match was the first women’s singles semifinal of the evening at Arthur Ashe Stadium and she will now face Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who beat Madison Keys in the second semifinal.

Williams was delighted after the match and admitted her feat of reaching the final is “incredible” especially because at this time last year, she was in hospital fighting for her life after giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian.

"It's honestly really incredible," Williams said after her win over Sevastova. "A year ago I was fighting for literally my life at the hospital after I had the baby. Every day I step on this court I'm so grateful that I have an opportunity to play this sport. No matter what happens in any match, semis, finals, I just feel like I've already won."

The 2018 US Open is just the seventh tournament Williams has played since returning from her maternity break and she has already made two Grand Slam finals. The former world number one lost to Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon in July. Despite that, Williams made it clear she was still not at her best and that there is still a lot more to come.

"I couldn't have predicted this at all," Williams added. "Just been working really hard. Like I said, this is just the beginning of my return. I'm still on the way up. There's still much more that I plan on doing. You don't reach your best a couple months in. That's kind of where I am now. I just feel like there's a lot of growth to still go in my game. That's actually the most exciting part." 

Meanwhile, Osaka became the first Japanese woman to reach a Grand Slam final in the Open Era after she beat 2017 finalist Keys 6-2, 6-4 in the second women’s singles semi-final on Arthur Ashe Stadium. The 20-year-old, who has been a United States resident since she was three years old, displayed some of her best tennis of the tournament to book a place in the final against her childhood idol.

Osaka was still in a state of disbelief after her win, but admitted she was delighted to take her place in the summit clash. The world number 19 previously admitted winning the US Open has always been her priority over other Grand Slams owing to her connection to New York, while also stating she played a lot of her tennis at the Billie Jean King tennis center as a youngster.

“This still feels really weird, because I've never beaten Madison before. She's such a good player," Osaka said during her on-court interview after the straight sets win over Keys. "I just tried to think that I've never been in this situation before, [and] I'm just really happy to be here.”

“I used to play here when I was a little kid, so these courts aren’t new to me,” Osaka added.

“I always thought if I were to win a Grand Slam, the first one I’d want to win is the US Open, because I have grown up here and then my grandparents can come and watch. I think it would be really cool.”

The women’s singles final will take place Sept. 9 with live TV coverage provided by ESPN in the United States. The match will begin on Arthur Ashe Stadium at 4 p.m. EDT.