WIMBLEDON, England – Serena Williams wins with so much more than serving, of course.
Her groundstrokes are intimidating. Her superb speed and anticipation fuel unparalleled court-covering defense. Her returns are outstanding, 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.
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.
“The older I get, the better I serve, I feel,” Williams said. “I don’t know how it got better. I really don’t know. It’s not like I go home and I work on baskets and baskets of serves. Maybe it’s a natural shot for me.”
Her next 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.
“After a couple of games, I just relaxed a little bit,” said Radwanska, who made only six unforced errors, one in the second set.
Williams won 20 of her 24 service points in the first set, including 17 in a row during one stretch. She didn’t double-fault and 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 majors and would have returned to No. 1 in the rankings if she had managed to beat Williams.
Williams is 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.
Radwanska, who had never been even a semifinalist at any Grand Slam tournament, is the first Polish woman to make it to a major title match since Jadwiga Jedrzejowska lost three finals in the 1930s.