Venus Williams serves strong, earns spot in Wimbledon semifinal

Youth was served.

And served. Then served even harder.

In a blink it was over Tuesday, with Venus Williams making short work of Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in a Wimbledon women’s quarterfinal, 6-3, 7-5.

On a drizzly day when play was suspended because of weather, Williams rained down aces — eight, compared with one by Ostapenko — and saw 53% of her serves go unreturned.

“Been working on that serve,” said Williams, 37, who has won Wimbledon five times and made her debut in the storied tournament the same month 20-year-old Ostapenko was born. “It's working out for me just in time, just for these later rounds. I'd like to think that I can continue to rely on that as the matches continue.”

Williams will play Britain’s Johanna Konta in a semifinal match. Konta rallied from a set down to defeat Simona Halep of Romania. The first two sets were determined by tiebreaker, with Konta coming back from a 6-7 (2) opener to claim the match, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

“What Venus and her sister have given our sport is absolutely tremendous,” said Konta, who has played Williams before but never on a grass surface. “I feel very inspired and humbled to be sharing the court with her.”

Earlier in the day, Novak Djokovic defeated Adrian Mannarino of France, 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-4, in a fourth-round match that was originally scheduled for Monday night but was postponed because the nearly five-hour marathon between Gilles Muller and Rafael Nadal ran so long.

The Serbian Djokovic, seeded second, will play 11th-seeded Tomas Berdych in a quarterfinal Wednesday. They have a long history, but a lopsided one, with Djokovic holding a 25-2 match advantage.

In the third set, Djokovic asked for a medical timeout so a trainer could examine and stretch his right shoulder. He winced in pain during the examination.

“It's been something that I've been dragging back and forth for a while now,” Djokovic said. “But I'm still managing to play, which is the most important thing.”

After the match, he expressed frustration that tournament organizers didn’t move his Monday match to Centre Court, where it could have been played under the lights. (The other courts aren’t lighted.) That way, he could have gotten more time to rest for his quarterfinal, as opposed to playing on consecutive days.

“I just think it was a wrong decision not to play us last night, because we could have played,” he said. “I think the last match on the Centre Court was done before 7. Having in mind that Centre Court has the roof and lights, we could have played until 11.

“We went to the referee's office before 8. There were security reasons. That was the only excuse, that basically there were explanations that we were getting. I just didn't see any logic in not playing us on the Centre Court.”

Regardless, Djokovic hasn’t lost a set. At a similarly comfortable cruising altitude is Williams, who has lost one set in five rounds. She matched what she did here last year by advancing to the semifinals.

“I feel quite capable, to be honest, and powerful,” said Williams, whose sister, Serena, is not defending her 2016 Wimbledon title because she’s on a pregnancy hiatus. “So whatever age that is, as long as I feel like that, then I know that I can contend for titles every time.”

Williams is making her 20th appearance at Wimbledon, the most among active players, and she was the oldest woman in the field. Her 256-66 record in Grand Slam matches is second only to Serena’s (316-43) among active players, and places her fifth on the Open era list behind her sister, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf.

“I was watching her first matches … and I think every match she was playing better and better,” Ostapenko said of Williams.

On Thursday, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza is scheduled to play Magdelena Rybanikova, the first Slovak woman to appear in a Wimbledon semifinal. Muguruza advanced with a victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia; Rybanikova defeated American Coco Vandeweghe, 6-3, 6-3, in a match that started outdoors but was moved to Centre Court because of the wet weather.

sam.farmer@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATimesfarmer

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
80°