LONDON, July 6: Five-time champion and nostalgic favourite Venus Williams reached her first Wimbledon semifinal in seven years, setting up a clash with Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.
Venus, 36, is the oldest women�s semifinalist since Martina Navratilova in 1994 as she also moved a step closer to a final showdown with her sister and defending champion Serena Williams.
The American veteran, seeded eight, enjoyed a 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 victory over Kazakhstan�s world number 96 Yaroslava Shvedova.
This year, in her 19th Wimbledon and 71st Grand Slam appearance, the seeming infinity of Williams�s career has been in evidence.
Earlier in the third round, she beat 19-year-old Daria Kasatkina, who was born the month before Williams played her first Wimbledon, in 1997.
With her sister Serena also winning her quarterfinal match, the Williamses are in the Wimbledon semifinals together for the first time since 2009, when Serena beat Venus in the final. They have not met in a Grand Slam final since, but they could finally do so again on Saturday if both beat their semifinal opponents.
Three times in this tournament, she has beaten opponents 20 years old or younger. Twice, she has been pushed to three sets and played for more than 2 hours 25 minutes, including a 10-8 third set against Kasatkina. And even with the tournament�s schedule packed because of persistent rain, she has advanced to the quarterfinals in doubles with her sister.
Venus Williams�s experience on the Wimbledon grass proved too much for Shvedova, a streaky player who is best known for completing a �golden set� at Wimbledon in 2012 in which she did not lose a point.
Venus, who won the last of her seven Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon in 2008, is back in the last-four of a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2010 US Open.
Eight-time Wimbledon finalist Venus trails 3-2 in her five career meetings with 28-year-old Kerber, who won their only meeting on grass in the 2012 Olympics at Wimbledon.
�Oh wow, what a tough day on the court. It seemed she was going to win the tie-break but somehow I walked out with the set,� Venus said.
�She was on fire, but when you can walk to the net as the winner that�s the dream.
�I love playing the game. When you are winning matches it makes it that much sweeter.
�You can�t always have these big moments. I guess if you are Serena Williams it happens a lot, but for Venus Williams this is an awesome day.�
The first set tiebreak was key for Venus on Tuesday as she over-turned a 2/5 deficit before Shvedova�s game fell apart in th second.
German fourth seed Kerber, meanwhile, reached her second Wimbledon semifinal with a 7-5, 7-6 (7/2) win over Simona Halep, the fifth seed from Romania.
Serena Williams confidently marched into the semifinals, however, she moved a step closer to equalling Steffi Graf�s open-era record of 22 grand slam titles.
If chasing that record has appeared to weigh heavily on her at times since she won at Wimbledon last year, it was not the case here as she dismantled Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-4.
The 25-year-old fought gamely but Williams was in complete control, breaking her opponent in the ninth game of each set and never having to face a break point of her own in a comprehensive victory.
�I�m excited to have been able to win that one and get through. It feels really good,� said an utterly composed Williams afterwards. �One thing I�ve learned this year is just to focus on the match.�
The Williams serve was at its best on a bright, breezy, becalmed Centre Court. Her ratio of points won on the 67% of occasions on which she got her first attempt in was a brutal 90%.
�I thought today she was there since the first points to the last,� said Pavlyuchenkova, who admitted to being very nervous before the match, so desperate was she to give a good account of herself on a surface that is far from her favourite.
Elena Vesnina ran away in a 6-2, 6-2 romp over 19th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal, then confirmed that she was just as stunned as anyone else to see herself in the final four.
�I am very surprised,� Vesnina said, beaming. �It was like a dream come true. I�m always thinking I can do well in the Grand Slams. I had some good wins. I was close to be in the quarterfinal couple times, but it was not good enough. I was just waiting and waiting for this to happen. But, of course, semifinal is a big surprise for me.�
Vesnina, who turns 30 next month, grew up in Sochi, Russia, playing alongside Maria Sharapova, who won the title here at age 17. Vesnina was a highly regarded young prospect � Justine Henin once declared that she would be a top-five player after playing her at the 2007 French Open � but her singles career fell short of expectations. After reaching a career-best ranking of 21 in 2013, she plummeted last year and fell out of the top 120 this year after losing in Australian Open qualifying.
�Yeah, of course, everybody goes through this kind of time when you�re down and you�re thinking that it�s over,� Vesnina said. �You�re never going to be there, and you�re watching tennis on the TV, how everybody�s winning and playing semifinals, finals of the Grand Slams.� � Agencies