Wimbledon: Serena Williams fights back for semi-final place

Garbiñe Muguruza and Agnieszka Radwanska make up the other semi-finalists

Serena Williams of the U.S.A. celebrates after winning her match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

Serena Williams of the U.S.A. celebrates after winning her match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

 

Serena Williams out-slugged Victoria Azarenka to set up a frosty Wimbledon semi-final with Maria Sharapova and keep her calendar grand slam bid firmly on track.

The reigning Australian and French Open champion is now the overwhelming favourite to complete the third leg of that calendar slam, with no other true big-hitters left in the Wimbledon draw.

Only former world number one Azarenka had the power to match Williams, and even she could not cope, the 20-time major champion triumphing 3-6 6-2 6-3.

Sharapova beat Williams twice in 2004, edging out the American in that year’s Wimbledon final — but has since suffered 16 consecutive defeats to SW19’s top seed.

Two years ago Williams appeared to brand Grigor Dimitrov “the guy with the black heart”, following a relationship with the Bulgarian, who is now dating Sharapova.

Russian star Sharapova responded in kind, and the pair’s relationship has been terse ever since.

Cold stares and icy glances could be the order of Thursday’s semi-final then, but for now Williams was left reflecting on keeping her bid for a sixth Wimbledon crown on course.

The 33-year-old has banned all talk of the calendar slam bid, and jokingly played down the significance of seeing off Azarenka by again branding herself lucky to have survived scares against Heather Watson and big sister Venus.

“It was such a great atmosphere to be out here playing and doing the best we can, I think we both enjoyed it,” said Williams of her quarter-final with Azarenka.

“It’s been up and down, up and down but somehow I’m still alive: I don’t know how.

“It’s been a while (since Williams has lost to Sharapova) but she’s been playing really well.

“She’s such a fighter and it’s always good to seeing her playing well.

“I really don’t have anything to lose.”

Light-heartedly reiterating the off-limits nature of the grand slam conjecture, Serena laughed: “No I told you guys don’t mention it, no slam!”

Agnieszka Radwanska and Garbiñe Muguruza will contest Thursday’s other semi-final after both players came through their quarter-finals today.

Radwanska, who was a finalist at Wimbledon in 2012 and reached the last four a year later, has had a choppy year. But something about grass seems to bring out the best in the 13th seed, who reached the final at Eastbourne last month, and she had just enough in her armoury to come through 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3.

Earlier on, Garbiñe Muguruza said she was proud to become the first Spanish woman to play in a Wimbledon semi-final since Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, after overcoming a strong challenge from Timea Bacsinszky on No1 Court, winning out 7-5, 6-3.

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