Serena Williams
Serena Williams displayed plenty of anguish on her way to winning in three setsGetty Images

World number one Serena Williams recovered from the brink of retirement to stage a remarkable revival to continue her pursuit of a 20th grand slam singles title by defeating Timea Bacsinszky in three sets to reach the French Open final against Lucie Safarova.

The American was suffering from a fever throughout the contest and looked set to be heading out via forfeit after trailing by a set and a break on Bacsinszky's maiden major semi-final appearance.

But Williams turned the match around in typically emphatic fashion by winning the last 10 games on the bounce to prevail 4-6 6-3 6-0 and reach a 24th final in major competition and deny her Swiss opponent a shot at a first grand slam title.

"I didn't want to lose without a fight," she said. "I wanted to find to some energy from somewhere. I don't' know where I found it."

Though questions may be raised over the legitimacy of Williams's illness, which saw her requiring regular intakes of water and adopt a jaded stance at the back of the court amid the searing conditions at Roland Garros, the dramatic turnaround was anything but out of character.

Comebacks from a set down has defined Williams's route to the semi-final and it was to be no different against Bacsinszky as, after going a set and 3-2 down in the second, she won the next 10 games in a row to cruise into the final.

Safarova will be charged with attempting to halt Williams's grip on the summit of women's tennis in the final on 7 June after she overcame 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic in straight sets in the first semi-final.

Safarova had knocked out defending champion Maria Sharapova on her way to the last four and she blew away Ivanovic despite going a break down in the first set, prevailing 7-5 7-5 from her third match-point.

"It's slowly sinking in and it's just amazing. The happiness is unreal," she said after reaching her first grand slam final.

"In the second set, I think when I realised that I finally can be in the finals, I got a little bit tense there. The game at 5-4 I was really like overthinking and couldn't really concentrate to be there in the moment.

"My serve wasn't working, and, yes, it was a little bit fighting with everything on the court at that moment. But when I lost the serve I, like, shake it off and started to play aggressive again, and then I served it out."