AG­ING LIKE FINE WINE

VENUS MOVES TO SEMIS,

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - HOWARD FENDRICH

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.

Djokovic wins

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.

ALAS­TAIR GRANT, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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