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Williams continues march toward title

Zvonareva stands in way of 4th Wimbledon crown

WIMBLEDON, England – After Serena Williams moved within a victory of her fourth Wimbledon championship and 13th Grand Slam title overall, she was asked to assess the woman she’ll face in Saturday’s final, little-known Vera Zvonareva of Russia.

“I don’t think she does anything terrible. I think that’s the best way to describe her game,” Williams said. “She does everything good.”

That’s a fair, if not necessarily charitable, scouting report. Minutes later came a follow-up: Is there anything Williams herself does “terrible” in tennis or in life?

She hemmed and hawed, then replied, “I don’t know. That’s a good question. I’m stumped.”

It’s difficult to find any flaws in Williams’ play right now. The No. 1-ranked American has won all 12 sets she’s played this fortnight, set a Wimbledon record with 80 aces in the tournament, and reached a third consecutive final at the All England Club by beating Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (5), 6-2 Thursday.

“Well,” the defending champion said, “I’m hoping to still peak in the final.”

That must be a daunting prospect for the 21st-ranked Zvonareva, who eliminated Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the day’s other semifinal.

Zvonareva is the second-lowest-ranked woman to reach a Wimbledon final, had never advanced past the fourth round here, and will be playing in a title match for the first time in 30 Grand Slam tournaments.

“I always believe in myself. I don’t care about what everyone says,” Zvonareva said. “I know if I play my best tennis, I can beat anyone. … I never look at any odds or comparisons.”

So she might not know that Williams is 12-3 in major finals, or that Williams has won five of their previous six meetings.

“On paper, it looks like I should win,” said Williams, who is wearing glittering, silver nail polish that sometimes reflects the sun’s rays. “But Vera, she’s beaten some good people. Her last two matches, she’s been down a set, so she’s obviously a fighter.”

For Williams, it actually might be refreshing to look across the Centre Court net and see someone other than her older sister Venus.

Serena never has beaten anyone other than Venus in a Wimbledon final, winning all-Williams matchups in 2002, 2003 and 2009. Five-time champion Venus got the better of Serena in the 2008 championship match at the grass-court tournament.

“That’s interesting. I guess the crowd should like that – not another Williams-Williams,” said their mother and coach, Oracene Price.

At least one of her daughters has reached the Wimbledon final in 10 of the past 11 years. Not facing Venus on Saturday “makes it easier” for Serena to give it her all, Price said.

Venus isn’t even in England; she flew home to Florida. She lost in Tuesday’s quarterfinals to the 82nd-ranked Pironkova, who along with the 62nd-ranked Kvitova was trying to become the first unseeded women’s finalist at Wimbledon.

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