S. Williams beats defending champion at Wimbledon

By Howard Fendrich

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, July 3 2012 3:26 p.m. MDT

Maria Kirilenko of Russia plays a return to Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland during a quarterfinals match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, England, Tuesday, July 3, 2012.

Kirsty Wigglesworth, Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England — Thanks to a bit of advice from her big sister and a bunch of aces from her big serve, Serena Williams is back in the Wimbledon semifinals.

With two more victories, Williams will be holding a Grand Slam trophy for the first time in two years.

The thud of racket-against-ball reverberating under the closed Centre Court roof, Williams smacked 13 aces at up to 120 mph and overpowered defending champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 7-5 in the quarterfinals Tuesday at the All England Club.

Beforehand, Williams' father and coach, Richard, asked his other title-winning daughter to relay some suggestions.

"I went and had Venus talk to her, because Venus can get (through) to Serena better than anyone in the world. So I told Venus, 'I'm not going to talk to her. You talk to her.' So Venus went and talked to her. When the match was over, I told her, 'Venus: Good coaching! Good coaching!'" Dad said after snapping photos of Serena's victory from his front-row perch in the guest box above a scoreboard.

"I wanted Serena to move her feet a little bit more and to not concentrate on what the girl's doing, but concentrate exactly on what she wished to do," he continued. "And that was the only message."

Consider it delivered.

The 30-year-old Williams, bidding to become the first woman at least that age to win a major title since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1990, turned in her best performance of the tournament against her most difficult opponent. After being stretched to 9-7 and 7-5 third sets against less-accomplished women in the two previous rounds, the No. 6-seeded Williams was on top of things from the get-go against No. 4 Kvitova.

"You can't play a defending Wimbledon champion or Grand Slam champion and not elevate your game," said Williams, who produced 27 winners and only 10 unforced errors. "I had to weed out the riffraff and just get serious."

Kvitova had won 16 of her last 17 matches at Wimbledon, including 11 in a row since a loss to Williams in the 2010 semifinals. Two days later, Williams went on to win the championship — her fourth at Wimbledon, her 13th at a Grand Slam tournament and her most recent to date.

Within a week, Williams cut her feet on glass at a restaurant, leading to a series of health problems, including being hospitalized for clots in her lungs, then the removal of a pocket of blood under the skin on her stomach.

"No one tries to have ups and downs. Some things happen sometimes, and you have absolutely no control over it," said Williams, whose only first-round loss in 48 Grand Slam tournaments came at the French Open in late May. "So I think it's how you recover from that, and how you handle the downs even more than the ups can really (reveal your) character."

On Thursday, Williams will play No. 2 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, the reigning Australian Open champion, who defeated unseeded Tamira Paszek 6-3, 7-6 (4) under the roof at night to reach the Wimbledon semifinals for the second straight year. The other semifinal will be No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland against No. 8 Angelique Kerber of Germany.

A little before 10 p.m. on Centre Court, Radwanska finished her 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 victory over No. 17 Maria Kirilenko — whose boyfriend, two-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, was in the stands. Earlier, the match was forced off Court 1 because of showers, tied 4-all in the third set.

"Today was for me, like, 40 hours," Radwanska said after reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal. "I was on and off all the time, waiting pretty much all day."

Kerber was a 6-3, 6-7 (7), 7-5 winner over No. 15 Sabine Lisicki in an all-German matchup. Lisicki saved three match points in the second set, but then let a 5-3 lead slip away in the third against Kerber, also a semifinalist at last year's U.S. Open.

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