VENUS BOOKS PLACE
IN NINTH WIMBLEDON FINAL
Ashley Marshall | July 13, 2017
On the stage where she has experienced her greatest successes, Venus Williams is once again turning back the clock and delivering vintage performances reminiscent of her prime.
The five-time Wimbledon champion defeated sixth-seeded Brit Johanna Konta, 6-4, 6-2, in 73 minutes inside Centre Court on Thursday to book her place in a ninth Wimbledon final – and her first since 2009.
Williams, the No. 1 seed at this year's event, has won the third Grand Slam of the year five times before -- in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008. She also reached final in 2002, 2003 and 2009, losing all three contests to younger sister Serena, who is one of only three women to win more titles on the grass of London more often in the Open era.
Thursday’s semifinal win was Williams’ 87th at the All England Club, the most by any active female player. ADVERTISEMENT
Williams will face 2015 Wimbledon finalist and 2016 French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza in the championship match on Saturday, after the Spaniard made easy work of unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-1, 6-1, earlier in the afternoon. Muguruza and Williams have met four times before, with the American winning their first three meetings but Muguruza prevailing in their most recent contest, on clay in the Rome quarterfinals in May.
Should the 37-year-old prevail Saturday, she would move one Wimbledon title behind Serena and Steffi Graf and three behind Martina Navratilova, whose nine wins in London are an Open era record. She would also win her first Grand Slam title since that Wimbledon crown in 2008, and her eighth overall.
Thursday against Konta, in a contest of fine margins, it was the American who protected her serve better and responded to the challenge of the biggest points in the biggest moments. Williams won 79 percent of points on her first serve and 65 percent on her second, compared with marks of 68 percent and 33 percent, respectively, for Konta, who was contesting her first major semifinal.
After splitting the first eight games of the match, Williams saved a pair of break points in the ninth game to hold serve before breaking Konta, who was serving to stay in the set at 4-5.
The quick change of momentum proved to be decisive, and Konta never appeared to overcome the perceived imbalance of being one point away from serving for the opening set to being one set away from exiting SW19 in a mere matter of minutes.
Williams, who didn’t face a break point in the second set, raced out to a 4-1 lead after converting her third opportunity of the fourth game to put the pressure firmly on the Brit. The duo exchanged holds to get to 5-2, but Williams claimed victory on her third match point in the longest game of the match.
Williams will now contest her second major final in seven months after not reaching the championship match at a Slam for more than seven years. Venus fell to Serena in the final of the Australian Open in January, her first title match since losing the 2009 Wimbledon final.