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Wimbledon: Serena Williams powers past Azarenka

Serena lashes a record 24 aces to reach her 7th career Wimbledon final

By Howard Fendrich

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, July 5 2012 11:06 p.m. MDT

Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland plays a shot to Angelique Kerber of Germany during a semifinals match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, England, Thursday, July 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England — Serena Williams wins with so much more than serving, of course.

Her groundstrokes are as intimidating as they come. Superb speed and anticipation fuel her court-covering defense. Her returns are more than solid, too.

When that serve is on-target, though, it sure is something special, quite possibly the greatest in the history of women's tennis. Lashing a tournament-record 24 aces at up to 120 mph, and doing plenty of other things well, too, four-time Wimbledon champion Williams overpowered No. 2-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-3, 7-6 (6) Thursday to reach her seventh final at the All England Club.

"Isn't that something?" said Williams' father, Richard, after watching his daughter win on Centre Court. "She was really trying, you know? Maybe she was trying to impress the neighbors back home."

Williams won 20 of 24 service point in the first set, including 17 in a row during one stretch. She didn't double-fault once, a real accomplishment, given how often she went for corners and lines. She finished with a 45-14 edge in total winners. And this performance didn't come against a slouch: Azarenka won the Australian Open in January as part of a 26-0 start to this season, was playing in her third semifinal in the past five major tournaments, and would have returned to No. 1 in the rankings if she'd managed to beat Williams.

She's now one win away from a fifth Wimbledon championship, adding to those in 2002-03 and 2009-10, and 14th Grand Slam singles trophy overall — but first in two years.

On Saturday, the 30-year-old Williams will try to become the first woman at least that age to win a major tournament since Martina Navratilova, who was 33 when she won Wimbledon in 1990. Williams' opponent will be No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, who reached her first Grand Slam final at age 23 by playing steady as can be during a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 8 Angelique Kerber of Germany.

Never before even a semifinalist at any Grand Slam tournament, Radwanska is the first Polish woman to make it to a major title match since Jadwiga Jedrzejowska lost three finals in the 1930s.

"I don't really have anything to lose, so just going to try my best," said Radwanska, the junior champion at Wimbledon in 2005, and the French Open in 2006.

Radwanska, whose younger sister Ursula is ranked 54th, will rise to No. 1 for the first time if she wins Saturday.

"If she will play like today," Kerber said, "I think she has a good chance."

Williams won their two previous encounters in straight sets, but they haven't played each other since a quarterfinal four years ago at Wimbledon.

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