24 aces help Serena Williams reach Wimbledon final
By Howard Fendrich July 5, 2012 3:59PM
Serena Williams of the United States reacts after winning the first set against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during a semifinals match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, England, Thursday, July 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Updated: August 7, 2012 6:32AM
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) on Thursday to reach her seventh final at the All England Club.
“Isn’t that something?” said Williams’ father, Richard, after watching his daughter win on Centre Court. “She was really trying, you know? Maybe she was trying to impress the neighbors back home.”
On Saturday, Williams, 30, 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. “I was really focusing on every point.”
Williams won 20 of her 24 service points in the first set, including 17 in a row. She didn’t double-fault once, a real accomplishment, given how often she went for corners and lines. She finished with a 45-14 edge in total winners.
Williams’ run to the final has come five weeks after a stunning exit at the French Open, her only first-round loss in 48 Grand Slam appearances.
Never before even a semifinalist at any Grand Slam tournament, Radwanska is the first Polish woman to make it to a major title match since Jadwiga Jedrzejowska lost three finals in the 1930s. AP