Serena Williams beats Victoria Azarenka to reach Wimbledon semifinals

Serena Williams won't talk about her current run toward the ultimate in tennis success, but her game continues to speak volumes.

When she out-battled the feisty and never-to-be-intimidated Victoria Azarenka in a women's quarterfinal match Tuesday on Wimbledon's Centre Court, it featured some of the highest-level women's tennis seen.

Azarenka said it often and best, and she was the 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 loser.

"I think we put on a good show together," Azarenka said. "I think it has been quite awhile since there was that high quality of women's tennis."

Williams has won 20 Grand Slam titles, including the first two major tournaments this year. She is two match victories away from winning the third. Were she to complete the sweep at the U.S. Open, it would mark the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf did it in an incredible 1988, when she also won the Olympic gold medal in Seoul.

"Please, no more Grand Slam questions," Williams has told reporters for the last several days — reporters who, understandably, want to write about history while she, understandably, wants to take it one match at a time.

If you gave Azarenka a vote, she'd say Williams can do it, but just not at her expense across the net.

"I can't say I went out there and didn't play well," said the 23rd-seeded Belorussian, winner of two majors herself, Australian Opens in 2012 and '13. "We just saw why Serena is No. 1. I haven't seen her play like this, honestly, even the matches before that."

Williams is the last U.S. player standing in this Wimbledon. Two others, CoCo Vandeweghe and Madison Keys, went out Tuesday in the quarterfinals.

Vandeweghe, of Rancho Santa Fe, wrestled a middle-set tiebreaker away from fourth-seeded former champion Maria Sharapova but could not retain the consistency to win out over the stubborn and always-grinding Russian, who won, 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-2.

The third U.S. woman in the quarterfinals, Keys, also acquitted herself well, but lost to Polish veteran Agnieszka Radwanska, seeded 13th. Radwanska won, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3, and said afterward about the fast-rising 20-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla., "You are going to hear more from her in the future."

Radwanska, finalist here in 2012 and a semifinalist in 2013, will play Spain's Garbine Muguruza in the other semifinal. The Spaniard beat Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, 7-5, 6-3.

Azarenka said after her match that Williams had hit 24 aces in the 2-hour 4-minute battle. She actually hit 17, with five more service winners. But the point was well taken. She had 46 winners to Azarenka's 20, and she had her foot on the gas pedal the entire match.

The two shared a big hug at the net after the final point and Azarenka said, "We have a great friendship off the court. Once the match is over, we put it out a long time ago. . . . She played a great match and I respect that."

Williams saw the match similarly, with an emphasis on the need for total effort.

"I felt like I was just fighting, fighting, fighting," she said, "literally to the last point."

Follow Bill Dwyre on Twitter @DwyreLATimes

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
51°