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Sublime Serena enters final

| | LONDON
Sublime Serena enters final

Seven-time champion marches into 10th All England Club title match against Kerber

Serena Williams booked a Wimbledon final rematch against Angelique Kerber as the seven-time champion marched into her 10th All England Club title match with a 6-2, 6-4 rout of Julia Goerges on Thursday.

On 20-match winning streak at Wimbledon, Serena is the third oldest female Grand Slam finalist in the Open era at 36 years and 291 days.

She will face German world number 10 Kerber on Saturday in a repeat of the 2016 showpiece won by Williams.

Williams has often blasted her rivals off Centre Court with ferocious power-hitting, but German 13th seed Goerges was sent packing with a more subtle 70-minute display featuring just 16 winners and five aces.

In only her fourth tournament since the birth of her daughter Olympia in September, the 23-time Grand Slam champion is closing in on her first major title as a mother.

"It's crazy. I don't even know how to feel. I didn't expect to do this well in my fourth tournament back," Williams said.

"I had a really tough pregnancy delivery. I had to have multiple surgeries and almost didn't make it to be honest.

"I'm just enjoying every moment of this. This was not inevitable for me."

The American star will have history in her sights against Kerber as she tries to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slams singles titles.

An eighth Wimbledon title would also move her past Steffi Graf into second place on the list of female Wimbledon champions, behind nine-time winner Martina Navratilova.

Serena will go into her 30th Grand Slam final - her first since winning the 2017 Australian Open - holding a 6-2 lead in her head to head record against Kerber.

"She is clearly a really good grass-court player. But whatever happens it's a great moment for me and incredible motivation to keep going for the rest of my career," Serena added.

After all the controversy about the decision to seed Williams 25th at Wimbledon despite her position at 181 in the WTA rankings, she has proved the tournament's officials were actually too conservative.

Williams, who missed Wimbledon last year due to her pregnancy, won the grass-court Grand Slam on her previous two visits in 2015 and 2016.

Twenty years after making her Wimbledon debut as a precocious teenager and 16 years since her first title at the All England Club, Serena remains the pre-eminent force in the women's game.

In a testament to her remarkable longevity, the former world number one has now made at least one Grand Slam final for the last 12 years.

Serena had lost only one of her 10 previous Wimbledon semi-finals and the 11th followed a familiar script.

When a panicked Goerges error wrapped up the first set, Serena's dominance was so total that the American, whose emotions are usually on full display, barely acknowledged the moment.

By the time a Goerges drop-shot drifted into net to present Serena with the decisive break in the sixth game of the second set, the contest had already been sapped of any drama and moments later the title favourite was waving to the crowd in celebration.

Earlier, Kerber raced into her second Wimbledon final and fourth Grand Slam showpiece as the German crushed former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-3 in 67 minutes.

The 30-year-old hit only 10 winners but that was all it took to get the job done as Latvian 12th seed Ostapenko shot herself in the foot with 36 unforced errors.

"I was just trying to move good and take my chances. I'm so excited," Kerber said.

"It's such a great feeling to be back in the final. Playing on Centre Court is always great."

Referencing her dismal form last year, Kerber added: "2017 is over and I'm really happy about that. We are in 2018!

"I'm really happy and proud to be in a Grand Slam final. These are the matches I was working for since I was a kid."

It will be Kerber's first Grand Slam final since she won the second of her two major titles at the 2016 US Open.

Kerber, who also won the Australian Open in 2016, is bidding to become the first German woman to win Wimbledon since Graf in 1996.

30-love semifinals

After so much speculation about a possible Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, 10 years after their last, the tennis world instead will get a semifinal featuring another outstanding rivalry: Nadal vs Novak Djokovic.

Friday's showdown will be their 52nd meeting overall - the most for any pair of men and 14 more installments than Federer vs Nadal - and first at the All England Club since 2011.

That was also the last time Nadal made it past the fourth round at the grass-court major; Djokovic, who holds a 26-25 head-to-head lead, beat him in that year's final. The first semifinal at Centre Court, between No 8 seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa and No 9 John Isner of the US.

There are zero major titles so far for either Isner, 33, or Anderson, 32, who shockingly ended Federer's bid for a ninth championship at Wimbledon by erasing a match point and beating him 13-11 in the fifth set of their quarterfinal Wednesday.

Add in Nadal, 32, and Djokovic, 31, and it's the first time in the half-century of professional tennis that all four male semifinalists at any Slam are in their 30s.

 
 
 
 
 

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