Sat, Jul 09, 2016 - Page 16 News List

Kerber puts end to Venus’ hopes of all-Williams final

AP, LONDON

Serena Williams gestures during her match against Elena Vesnina at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, London, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Instead of the ninth all-Williams final at a Grand Slam tournament, there is a rematch of another sort to determine the title at Wimbledon.

With Serena Williams one victory from her record-tying 22nd major title, she will need to beat a woman who already stopped her once this year in that pursuit, Angelique Kerber.

After Williams needed all of 48 minutes to overwhelm Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-0 at the All England Tennis Club, elder sister Venus failed to join in the family fun, losing to Kerber 6-4, 6-4 in Thursday’s second semi-final.

Since winning her sixth Wimbledon trophy a year ago to raise her career count at Grand Slam events to 21, Serena has come quite close to pulling even with Steffi Graf at 22 — the most in the Open era, which began in 1968. Margaret Court’s all-time mark is 24.

The American was surprisingly beaten by Roberta Vinci in the US Open semi-finals in September last year, then by Kerber in the Australian Open final in January and by Garbine Muguruza in the French Open final last month.

Reaching the final at each of a year’s first three major tournaments might sound good to other players.

Not to this one.

“For anyone else in this whole planet, it would be a wonderful accomplishment,” Serena said. “For me, it’s about, obviously, holding the trophy and winning, which would make it a better accomplishment for me. For me, it’s not enough, but I think that’s what makes me different. That’s what makes me Serena.”

When a reporter asked what she makes of it when others talk about her as one of history’s greatest female athletes, this was the reply: “I prefer the word, one of the greatest ‘athletes’ of all time.”

The case will be even stronger if she can do what she could not do in Melbourne: solve Kerber’s left-handed game.

That Australian Open victory gave Kerber her first Grand Slam title in her first Grand Slam final.

She said on Thursday that she is more relaxed and more confident on court thanks to that big moment.

Venus was by Kerber broken the first four times she served and never recovered.

“A very shaky match from her. She was fighting hard, but she was frustrated. I could tell,” Venus’ coach David Witt said. “Her concentration was up-and-down. The focus was up-and-down. That made her game up-and-down.”

That match was more competitive than what transpired earlier, which more closely resembled a training session for the No. 1-ranked Serena — except she probably gets more of a workout when she practices.

“I couldn’t do anything today,” Vesnina said.

Serena’s serve was in fine form, producing 11 aces against the 50th-ranked Vesnina, who was making her major semi-final debut. Serena won 28 of 31 points she served, including the last 17.

“An almost perfect match,” Serena’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou said.

Serena had Vesnina looking defeated after all of 12 points. That was when, after sprinting for a forehand that landed in the net, the Russian leaned over, sighed and slumped her shoulders.

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