Former world number one Venus Williams has continued to go from strength to strength at her 20th Wimbledon. The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion is flying the flag for the Williams' family at this year's Wimbledon. Her sister, Serena was the two-time defending champion but she is currently pregnant, and Serena won the Australian Open back in January denying Venus the chance to win her first Grand Slam singles title in almost nine years. Nevertheless, Venus has been consistent at Grand Slams as she has reached the second week at the last six successive Grand Slams.
The 37-year-old will be competing in her 10th Wimbledon semifinal, and she has a stellar record in them. She has an 8-1 win-loss record, with her solitary defeat in a semifinal at SW19 coming last year to two-time Grand Slam champion Angie Kerber. Williams will take on a familiar face in the semifinals, and it is Britain's Johanna Konta.
The Brit has made new ground at this year's Wimbledon as the second round was her previous best performance at her home Slam. The sixth seed has some experience in Grand Slam semifinals as she lost to Kerber in her first one at the Australian Open last year. Konta defeated Williams in the first round, and the historic run continued. The 26-year-old has had some tough battles to reach this stage but she will be full of confidence when she takes on the five-time champion.
Williams' route to the semifinals
The former world number one has dealt with the off-court issues perfectly, and it has not affected her performances on the court. The American defeated Elise Mertens in straight sets to get her Wimbledon campaign up and running. Furthermore, Williams was up against Qiang Wang in the second round, who she beat in the first round of the French Open. However, the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion recovered from a set down to beat her. There was a generation gap in Williams' next three encounters. She did not drop a set against 19-year-old Naomi Osaka, and 27th seed Ana Konjuh. In her second match back on Centre Court, Williams soundly beat French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, snapping the 20-year-old's Grand Slam winning run at 11 in the quarterfinals.
Konta's route to the semifinals
Konta had a relatively short clay court season as she lost in the first round at Roland Garros for the third successive year to Su-Wei Hsieh. However, the duo met in the first round at SW19, and Konta gained her revenge against the player from the Chinese Taipei in straight sets. Moreover, there was a Centre Court epic in the second round as the sixth seed was up against 21-year-old Donna Vekic, who beat her to win the Aegon Open in Nottingham. It was another three-set encounter which Konta came out on the right side, and she won her first match on Centre Court and broke more new ground as she reached the third round for the first time. The Brit sent Maria Sakkari packing in the third round in straight sets, and she endured two more back-to-back grueling three-set encounters. She defeated 21st seed Caroline Garcia of France to reach her third Grand Slam quarterfinal, and she halted second seed Simona Halep's chances of claiming the world number one ranking by defeating her in a thriller. She became the first British woman in 39 years to reach the last four at Wimbledon.
Williams and Konta have met on five occasions, and the British number one leads their head-to-head encounters 3-2. However, this will be their first meeting on grass, and they have had some enthralling encounters over the years. The former world number one defeat Konta, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in their quarterfinal clash in Wuhan in 2015 but the Brit would win their next two meetings in the first round of the Australian Open in 2016 and in the final of Stanford last year, where Konta won her first career title. Once again, Konta got the better off Williams on North American hard courts in the semifinals in Miami in straight sets, en route to winning the biggest title of her career to date. Moreover, on both players weakest surface, the American sent Konta packing in the third round in Rome but she needed three sets to get the job done.
Who reaches the final?
The five-time champion will come into this semifinal clash fresher than Konta as she has only dropped one set throughout the tournament. Williams has been serving well, and she has been coming through tough moments when her back has seemingly been against the wall. She was two points away from losing the second set against Ostapenko but she found a timely ace and hung in tough to close out the match in straight sets. Williams is a fine returner on grass, and she will punish Konta's second serve.
Moreover, the Brit has done exceptionally well to reach her second Grand Slam semifinal. Mentally she did well to defeat tough opponents in Vekic, Garcia, and Halep. She will be expecting to have a tougher clash with Williams who will be sending the ball back faster than Halep did. Konta also has the tools to punish Williams' second serve which is attackable.
This is a good opportunity for both players to reach the final at Wimbledon but it may prove to be a step too far for Konta, and even if they go to three sets, Williams has the mentality of a champion to win another Grand Slam semifinal. Britain's wait for another Grand Slam champion in the ladies' singles draw, will continue.
Prediction: Williams in three sets