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Wimbledon: Venus and Serena Williams on verge of sister act final

Serena and Venus power into semi-finals with hopes of family showdown on Centre Court one step closer

By Matt Gatward

Published 06/07/2016

Hands up if you’re in the semi-finals: Venus Williams celebrates her win over Kazak Yaroslava Shvedova
Hands up if you’re in the semi-finals: Venus Williams celebrates her win over Kazak Yaroslava Shvedova
Serena Williams

Venus Williams celebrated her moment of victory on Court One with a smile as wide as the Thames, a chuckle and a gentle, disbelieving, shake of the head. Then came the pirouette.

Serena Williams celebrated her moment of victory on Centre Court with a clenched fist, an acknowledgment to her entourage and a nod of steely determination. Then came the pirouette.

The different reactions said it all.

For Venus, who beat the world No 96, Kazak Yaroslava Shvedova, 7-6, 6-2, these are peaks she used to wander regularly but must have wondered if she would ever scale again.

This is her first Grand Slam semi-final since the 2010 US Open. Serena, who beat the Russian world No 21 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-4, 6-4, is very used to being at these rarefied heights but by this stage of a Slam her sister is usually cheering her on not potentially waiting for her in the final.

For that to happen Venus must first overcome Angelique Kerber, who will be some hurdle to clear, after the German Australian Open champion beat Romania's Simona Halep 7-5, 7-6 on Tuesday. Serena meets the unseeded Russian Elena Vesnina in the other semi-final after she beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2. The Slovakian can now get to her Saturday wedding in Bratislava after all.

For the 36-year-old Venus it is some comeback after Sjogren's Syndrome struck back in 2011, a disease that attacks the auto-immune system. For some time it went undiagnosed and the American battled with not knowing why she felt unwell.

"Every day I can have a victory, it's a day I can build on," Venus said after her win. "Being in the semi-finals feels good. I have no regrets. It has been a journey but it's made me stronger.

"The difficult thing is not being in control. As an athlete you are used to being in control of things. It was a relief to know what was wrong with me because [when I was diagnosed], it was like 'OK, I'm not crazy'. It's easy to be afraid but you have to let fear go. You have to believe in yourself, no matter how things are stacked against you."

Had she thought about jacking it all in? "Retiring is the easy way out. I don't have time for easy," Venus responded.

As Venus wrapped up her win on Court One, Serena was just starting on Centre and admitted she did half an eye on her sister's score.

"I knew she was up 5-1 or 5-2 when I started," the younger sibling said after her victory. "Then I saw she'd won on the screen and thought 'yay!'. We're happy to be in the semi-finals. It's so cool, it's great. I want her to win so bad…but not in the final if I'm there!"

But there will be no chatting about a potential sisters final over their cornflakes in the Williams house over the next 48 hours - both are adamant about concentrating on their semi-finals first. "No, we don't talk about that because we are focused on the next match," Venus said. "Even though we both won today, our opponents played really well. We actually have to get out there and play well to win."

After missing a regulation volley Venus trailed 5-2 in her first set tie-break but won the next five points to take the set as her hard-hitting forced Shvedova into mistakes. She then continued the power play in the second set, breaking the Kazak at will to wrap up the win in one hour and 42 minutes.

Serena, meanwhile, turned the screw at just the right moment in both sets, breaking at 4-4 and then serving out on both occasions. Her victory was achieved in just an hour and 13 mintues.

Vesnina's win over Cibulkova was the shock of the quarters as the 29-year-old World No 50 beat the World No 18 with ease, losing just four games. Cibulkova can now swap white skirt for white dress but will rue the opportunity to build on her recent improvement on grass.

Perhaps the Monday marathon match against Angelina Radwanska took its toll - but Vesnina also won 9-7 in the decider so that may not wash. The Russian has a chance to write the next unlikely chapter on Thursday.

It really would be a story worthy of the most imaginative scriptwriter if Venus were to reach her first Slam final since Wimbledon 2009 when she actually lost to Serena.

And an even more incredible one were she to win it and add a sixth SW19 singles crown, her first here since 2008.

But isn't that all too far-fetched a tale - even for this most remarkable of families?

"Real life is what Holywood is based on - so hey," Venus said.

"Let's do it."

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