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AFP
July 11, 2018

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Serena reaches 11th Wimbledon semifinal

LONDON: Serena Williams survived a major scare before sealing her 11th Wimbledon semi-final appearance as the seven-time champion hit back to beat Italy’s Camila Giorgi 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday.Williams was in danger of a stunning quarter-final exit after world number 52 Giorgi became the first player in this year’s tournament to take a set off the former world number one.But Serena bludgeoned her way out of trouble over the final two sets to stay on course for an eighth All England Club triumph. It was Serena’s 100th career main draw victory on grass.

The 36-year-old will play German 13th seed Julia Goerges on Thursday for a place in Saturday’s final boasting a 3-0 career record.Serena is the first woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final without facing a top 40 ranked opponent since 2013 and just the fourth since 2005.

Her path to the title has been wide open from early in the tournament as Garbine Muguruza, Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens have all been eliminated. The carnage at the top leaves 11th seed Angelique Kerber — beaten by Serena in the 2016 Wimbledon final — as the highest ranked player left. Kerber takes on Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in the other semi-final. Having shaken off the rust following her lengthy lay-off after the birth of her daughter Olympia in September, Williams is on the verge of a 10th Wimbledon final appearance. If Serena lifts the Venus Rosewater Dish this weekend, she will join an select group of women who have won Grand Slam titles after becoming mothers. She would also draw level with record holder Margaret Court on 24 Grand Slam crowns.

Williams won Wimbledon on her last two visits in 2015 and 2016 before missing last year’s event due to her pregnancy.Watched from the stands by her friend and mega-star rapper Drake, Serena struggled to hit the right notes in the first set.

There were no signs of stage-fright from Giorgi in her first Grand Slam quarter-final as she took the first set.But, hitting her serve with more ferocity, Serena wrestled back control of the match with a crucial break in the fourth game of the second set.

Shrieking and clenching her fists after every key point that went her way, Serena let out a gutteral ‘C’mon’ once she wrapped up the set. It was a verbal and physical assault that Giorgi couldn’t withstand. But this nerveless comeback was a sight familiar to all who have admired Williams’ warrior instincts throughout a Wimbledon career stretching back 20 years.

When Serena broke again for a 2-1 lead in the final set, the American whirled and pumped her arms. Her dance of delight signalled the end of Giorgi’s threat as Williams raced to the finish line. Angelique Kerber clinched her third appearance in the Wimbledon semi-finals with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Russian 14th seed Daria Kasatkina on Tuesday. Kerber is bidding to win the Wimbledon title for the first time after losing the 2016 final to Serena Williams.

The 30-year-old German remains on course after booking the seventh Grand Slam semi-final berth of her career.

Kerber, who won the Australian and US Open titles in 2016, plays former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko on Thursday for a place in Saturday’s final. “I was expecting a close match. We’ve played so many tough matches,” Kerber said after she finally sealed the win on her seventh match point.

“We both played on a really high level. I was just trying to stay focused on my serve. It’s great to be in the semis.“She was moving me very much. I was not thinking too much about the match points. I was just trying to push myself until the limits actually.”

Kerber is seeded 11th and, after a week of shock defeats for her title rivals, that makes her the highest ranked woman left in the draw.For the first time in the Open era, not a single top 10 seed has made the quarter-finals at one of the four Grand Slams. Kerber beat Kasatkina on grass at Eastbourne two weeks ago and again she was in control, finishing off the first set with ease before landing an early break in the second.

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