Serena Williams Advances To Semifinals


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( 4UMF NEWS ) Serena Williams Advances To Semifinals:

No. 2 seed Serena Williams is into her 10th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal after she scored a 6-2, 6-3 quarterfinal win over ninth-seeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

In a nod to experience, three of the four women’s semifinalists are part of the over-30 crowd: 36-year-old Venus Williams, 35-year-old Serena Williams, and 34-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

This is the second time in recent history that three women over 30 are into a Grand Slam semifinal. At the 2015 U.S. Open, champion Flavia Penetta, finalist Roberta Vinci, and semifinalist Serena Williams were all into their thirties.

Only unseeded Coco Vandeweghe, an upstart at age 25, keeps the semis from being an entirely over-30 affair. The addition of Vandeweghe makes it three American women.

Serena will play Lucic-Baroni, while Venus will take on Vandeweghe in the other semifinal on Thursday.

“It will be great to see an American in the final,” Serena said. “Obviously I would love to be that American in the final. Regardless, there’s going to be an American whose name is not Serena Williams, which I think will be pretty awesome.”

Now that the Williams sisters have both journeyed to the semifinals, it marks the first time in the Open Era that two players age 35 or over have reached a semifinal at the same Grand Slam.

Serena won nine of her 22 Grand Slam titles – an Open Era record she shares with Steffi Graf - since she turned 30.

“It’s really amazing,” Williams said on court. “Thirty is the new 10. I’m so proud of Mirjana. We played over a decade ago and now will play again.

“No matter what happens someone 34 or older will be in the final, and that’s just great,” Williams added.

Williams holds a 2-0 record over the 79th-ranked Lucic-Baroni, but both of those encounters took place way back in 1998 at the Sydney tournament and in the second round at Wimbledon.

"Serena is our greatest champion, for sure, the greatest tennis player that ever played the game," said Lucic-Baroni, whose only other Grand Slam semifinal appearance was at Wimbledon 1999. "So it's going to be incredibly tough. I'm sure she's going to be motivated to play well.

"I'm going to go out there with my heart and do the best that I can."

Lucic-Baroni was a teen tennis prodigy when she burst on the scene to win her first title as a 15-year-old at the 1997 Bol tournament. Eventually personal and financial problems drove her away from the spotlight, and she didn’t play a Grand Slam event from the 2002 U.S. Open to 2010 Wimbledon.

The Croatian, who lives in Florida, believes one day she will write a book and tell her story. But for now she’s not ready to discuss what transpired in her life.

It appears that Lucic-Baroni is relying on her faith in this second journey in the sport. One game prior to the quarterfinal win, she put rosary beads around her neck. And after the win, tears streamed down her face as she went to her knees on the court and said a prayer.

“It’s been so long since the last time I’ve been in the semifinals,” she said. “The struggle has been so much bigger, and nobody in this world thought I could ever be here again, besides my closest family.

“I kind of want to be known as an amazing fighter, a person who persevered against everything, against all odds,” she added. “And that’s what I take pride in.”

Serena is hoping to increase her record of Australian Open titles to seven, an achievement that would return her to the world No. 1 ranking. If she fails to win a 23rd career Grand Slam title here, German Angelique Kerber will retain the No. 1 crown for at least a while longer.

The only time Williams ever lost a final at Melbourne Park was last year when Kerber picked up her first career Grand Slam title.
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