Serena Williams advances to her seventh Wimbledon final -
|Serena Williams celebrates after defeating Victoria Azarenka to advance to the Wimbledon final for the seventh time in her career. (Glyn Kirk / AFP/Getty Images / July 5, 2012)
WIMBLEDON, England — With her record 24th ace, sixth-seeded Serena Williams
advanced to her seventh Wimbledon
final Thursday with a 6-3, 7-6 (6) semifinal win over second-seeded Victoria Azarenka. Williams will play third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska
in Saturday’s final. While Williams often struggled to find the right spot with her ground strokes and made 35 unforced errors to only 23 for Azarenka, the 30-year-old Williams stayed alive to fight for a fifth Wimbledon title because she started so many points by ending them immediately. “I’ve been working so hard,” said Williams, who hasn’t won a major title since winning here in 2010. “I really wanted this. I got a little tight in the second set. I was looking too far into the future.” It seemed Williams had grabbed hold of the match for sure when she broke Azarenka in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead and then held serve from deuce by hitting back-to-back aces for a 3-1 lead. But Azarenka, a 22-year-old from Belarus, found her rhythm and began forcing Williams to run more and more. In the sixth game Azarenka evened the match when Williams badly mishit a backhand and the match stayed on serve until the tiebreak. And the tiebreak stayed even, with both players winning their service points, until the 13th point when Azarenka, perhaps feeling some nerves, played a routine backhand into the net. With the Centre Court crowd feeling as if it knew what was next, Williams cracked her 24th ace — a single-match ladies Wimbledon record – to end the semifinal.