London (AFP) – Five-time champion Venus Williams swept into her first Wimbledon semi-final since 2009 with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 victory over Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova on Tuesday.
Aged 36, Venus is the oldest women’s semi-finalist since Martina Navratilova in 1994 as she moved a step closer to a nostalgic final showdown with her sister and defending champion Serena Williams, who overpowered Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-4. The younger sister hopes to equal Steffi Graf’s 22 Grand Slam titles; the older sibling hopes to turn back the clock and win once last Wimbledon.
Venus, who won the last of her seven Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon in 2008, is back in the last-four of a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2010 US Open.
Williams will play Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber for a place in her ninth Wimbledon final and first since 2009.
Venus trails 3-2 in her five career meetings with the 28-year-old German, who won their only meeting on grass in the 2012 Olympics at Wimbledon.
“Oh wow, what a tough day on the court. It seemed she was going to win the tie-break but somehow I walked out with the set,” Venus said.
“She was on fire, but when you can walk to the net as the winner that’s the dream.
“I love playing the game. When you are winning matches it makes it that much sweeter.
“You can’t always have these big moments. I guess if you are Serena Williams it happens a lot, but for Venus Williams this is an awesome day.”
Williams, an eight-time Wimbledon finalist, has endured a difficult struggle with Sjogren’s syndrome, an illness that causes fatigue and joint pain, in recent years.
World number 96 Shvedova, the fifth lowest ranked woman ever to reach the quarter-finals, had shown her grass-court potential when she recorded the only ‘golden set’ at Wimbledon, winning every point against Sara Errani in 2012.
But Venus hadn’t lost to a player ranked as low as Shvedova since the 2005 French Open and, in her first Wimbledon quarter-final since 2010, the American showed she still has the game to grind opponents into submission.
A tight first set could easily have gone against Williams when she trailed by a break.
But when the set went to a tie-break the world number eight’s mental strength and wealth of big match experience proved invaluable.
Trailing 5-2 in the breaker, Williams remained unflappable and reeled off five points in a row to steal the set.
Venus pressed home her advantage as she broke three times in a one-sided second set that recalled the era when she reigned supreme at the All England Club.