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Wimbledon: Beaten Venus Williams hasn't lost faith as Serena Williams powers towards history

By Paul Newman

Published 08/07/2016

Final encounter: Angelique Kerber en route to knocking out Venus Williams and reaching the decider
Final encounter: Angelique Kerber en route to knocking out Venus Williams and reaching the decider

Venus Williams' achievement in reaching her first Grand Slam semi-final for six years was remarkable in itself, but when the five-time Wimbledon champion walked off Centre Court after her 6-4 6-4 defeat by Angelique Kerber, it was hard not to wonder whether this would be the last time we see her play a singles match on the greatest stage.

The 36-year-old American may yet make another appearance on Centre Court this weekend after reaching the semi-finals of the doubles with her sister Serena, but will she ever get as close again to reaching the singles final at a Grand Slam?

Seven years after playing her last final, when she lost here to Serena, Venus was aiming to set up another Williams garden party tomorrow, but looked a shadow of her former self as she dropped her serve five times and made far too many unforced errors.

Maybe it was just a bad day at the office, but an inevitable conclusion was that the years may be catching up on her.

Venus, nevertheless, continues to believe that she can be a contender for major honours. She said: "I played a lot of great opponents here and had a lot of tough matches. I would like to continue to play this way."

Looking ahead to events like the Olympic Games and the US Open, she described her fortnight as "a great start" to the summer. She also said she would love to return next year.

Serena will take on Kerber tomorrow after a crushing 6-2 6-0 victory over Elena Vesnina sent the World No.1 into her third Grand Slam final of the year.

Ever since winning here last year, Serena has been chasing the victory that would see her equal the Open era record of 22 Grand Slam titles held by Steffi Graf, who was Kerber's childhood idol. Kerber, winning her first Major title, denied Serena at the Australian Open, while Garbine Muguruza beat the American in Paris.

Venus was broken in five of her first six service games. Although Kerber also had trouble holding serve in the early stages, the 28-year-old German always looked the likely winner after taking a 5-2 lead in the opening set.

The World No.4 kept making Venus hit the extra ball and demonstrated the confidence and mental strength that came with her triumph in Melbourne at the start of the year.

"After Australia there were a lot of things for me to handle, but it's six months ago now and I've learned from this experience," Kerber said.

"I've learned from my ups and downs. I know how to handle everything off the court. I know that I have to take time for my practice and focus on the gym and the tennis as well."

Kerber said her win over Serena in Melbourne would give her plenty of confidence going into the final, but added: "It's a completely new match. We are playing on a grass court.

"She lost the final against me, and I know she will go out and try everything to beat me right now. I will just try to go out there like I did in Australia and try to say, 'okay, I'm here to win the match as well'. I know that I have to play my best tennis to beat her in the final here."

Serena had far too much power for Vesnina, beating the Russian in just 48 minutes, which was three minutes shorter than the previous quickest women's semi-final in the Open era, when Venus beat Dinara Safina here in 2009. Vesnina won only five points in the second set and won just one of the 24 points played on Serena's first serve.

The two semi-finals lasted a total of just two hours, which prompted a question at Serena's post-match press conference about whether women deserved equal prize money.

"I think we deserve equal prize money," Serena said. "Absolutely. If you happen to write a short article, do you think you don't deserve the same pay as your beautiful colleague behind you?"

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