AGING LIKE FINE WINE
VENUS MOVES TO SEMIS,
Venus Williams’ mother could not stop smiling and laughing. She had just watched her 37-year-old daughter reach the Wimbledon semifinals for the 10th time and, well, the whole thing was just a bit hard to believe.
“She says, ‘I love my job!’ and she means it. I guess she’s kind of like a boxer: People think it’s time for her to quit because she’s too old,” Oracene Price said after leaving Centre Court, where the roof was shut because of rain Tuesday. “But she keeps getting back in the ring — and she seems to be doing pretty well. This is really amazing.”
Enjoying a career renaissance deep into her 30s, despite dealing with an energy-sapping disease, Williams rode a strong serve that produced eight aces, imposing returns and her court coverage of old to a 6-3, 7-5 victory over French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, edging closer to a sixth singles title at the All England Club.
“The competition keeps you growing,” Williams said. “You have to get better if you want to stay relevant.”
Somehow, at age 37, she’s done that. This was her 100th Wimbledon tennis match, coming in her 20th appearance. The first of her trophies at the grass-court tournament came in 2000. And now, for the third match in a row, Williams beat a player who was born in 1997 — after she made her Grand Slam debut that year.
“The first one was 20 years ago? Lord,” Price said, her eyes wide, her chuckle loud. “Well, you know, that’s a long time.”
This is not exactly new. Williams is the only woman to have made the fourth round at each of the past six majors, and now into her third semifinal in that span. She made it that far at Wimbledon last year, too, before losing, and got to the final at the Australian Open in January, when she was beaten by her younger sister, Serena.
“I just always felt like I have to keep trying,” said Williams, who repeatedly took advantage of Ostapenko’s second serves at around 70 m.p.h. (110 km/h). “That’s all I felt like.”
To get to the final at the All England Club, the 10th-seeded Williams will need to win Thursday against No. 6 Johanna Konta, the first British woman in the Wimbledon semifinals since Virginia Wade was the runner-up in 1978.
Konta prevented Halep from rising to No. 1 by beating her, 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4.
On the other side of the draw, 2015 Wimbledon runner-up and ’16 French Open champion Garbine Muguruza defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-3, 6-4. Muguruza saved all three break points she faced and did a good job of defending, focused more on keeping the ball in the court than going for winners.
“If she plays like she played today,” Kuznetsova said, “she has all the chances to win the title.”
Muguruza’s semifinal opponent will be Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, who is ranked 87th and had never even been past the third round in 35 previous majors. Rybarikova beat American Coco Vandeweghe, 6-3, 6-3, in a match moved to be finished indoors due to showers.
In the last men’s fourth-round match, Novak Djokovic took a medical timeout to have his right shoulder massaged, and he declared himself disappointed with the condition of the turf in the main stadium. Otherwise, Djokovic had little trouble eliminating 51st-ranked Adrian Mannarino of France, 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-4, in a match postponed Monday night because of darkness.
Romania’s Simona Halep returns to Britain’s Johanna Konta during their quarter-final match at Wimbledon on Tuesday. Konta won, 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4.