London: Seven-time champion Serena Williams is just two wins away from equalling Margaret Court’s Grand Slam titles record of 24 but she wobbled several times in her Wimbledon quarter-final against Alison Riske on Tuesday.
The 37-year-old, who recorded her 97th success at Wimbledon to move second on the women’s all-time list, came under enormous pressure from her fellow American before prevailing in an engrossing contest, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in just over two hours.
It says a lot about the unpredictability of the women’s game compared to the men’s that Serena was the only player in the last eight who reached the same stage last year.
“It was really satisfying,” said Serena, whose clay court campaign was affected by a knee injury.
“I wouldn’t have won that match a couple of weeks ago,” she added.
Also joining her in the last four was Romania’s former world number one Simona Halep, who fought back from 4-1 down and three break points in the first set to beat China’s Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.
For Halep — who aside from Serena was the only player in the quarter-finals to have won a Grand Slam, taking the French Open last year — it is her second Wimbledon semi-final.
Halep will play Elina Svitolina, the Ukraine eighth seed, after she came back from a break down in each set to beat Karolina Muchova 7-5, 6-4.
It will be the 24-year-old Ukrainian’s first Grand Slam semifinal.
Serena, whose total of 97 Wimbledon match wins compares to the 82 combined of the other seven quarter-finalists, will look back on her victory with some relief.
Riske converted all five of her break points while Serena succeeded with just six of her 16 opportunities.
However, she relied on her power to keep her in the match.
In doing so she managed to avoid the fate that befell world number one Ashleigh Barty of Australia at the hands of Riske on Monday.
“I’m glad that I was able to come through,” said Serena....