July 6, 2012 in Sports

Williams serves her way to Wimbledon final

Howard Fendrich Associated Press
Associated Press photo

American Serena Williams is ecstatic after defeating Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in semis.
(Full-size photo)

Today at Wimbledon

Men’s semis

• (1) Novak Djokovic

vs. (3) Roger Federer

• (4) Andy Murray

vs. (5) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Time: 5 a.m. PDT  TV: ESPN

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.

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