Together, the Williams sisters have combined for an extraordinary 11 Wimbledon titles – but there is no guarantee of a 12th in 2016. Angelique Kerber ended the possibility of an all-Williams final — it would have been the fifth at the All England Club — and instead has set up a rematch of the Australian Open final from earlier this year.
The German beat Venus Williams 6-4 6-4 in the more interesting of the two semi-finals. The first set was full of breaks of serve but eventually edged by Kerber. The American looked fatigued, hitting too many errors off the forehand wing and not getting much venom on her serve.
Venus, the oldest major semi-finalist in 22 years, saved three break points at 1-3 in the second set. And when Kerber served two double faults at the start of the next game, the American had to believe a comeback was possible. But from 0-30, Kerber served an ace, two unreturned serves and a forehand winner to quickly get herself out of trouble.
The best point of the match was probably the last. Kerber, so great at getting an extra ball in play, sealed the contest with her trademark forehand cross-court passing shot at full stretch. That same shot was so effective against Serena at Melbourne Park in January.
In the earlier semi-final, Serena thrashed Russian Elena Vesnina 6-2 6-0 in only 48 minutes. The American hit 28 winners and only seven unforced errors in a merciless display. She served 11 aces and dropped only three points on serve all match.
The world no.1, winner of six titles at SW19, progresses to her ninth Wimbledon final. Her opponent, ranked 50th in the world, is more known for her doubles achievements. Vesnina had won two women’s doubles titles in grand slams but was in uncharted territory in singles. The 29-year-old had already overachieved just by making it this far and shouldn’t be too disappointed.
Patrick Moroutoglou, Serena’s coach since 2012, was rather defensive when asked about that three-set final in Australia earlier this year.
“I’m not going to think about that match,” Moroutoglou said. “It was another match and it was another Serena. I want to see Kerber against the real Serena, and we’ll see the result.”
On Saturday, Serena will be attempting to win her 22nd grand slam title to equal Steffi Graf’s Open era record. But trying to protect that record will be fellow German Kerber, a player who idolised Graf when she was growing up. She has already done it once before, can she do it again?