Williams Sisters to Meet at Wimbledon Semifinals

Venus and Serena Williams won Fourth of July matches today to set up a historic all-sister semifinal at Wimbledon.

The eighth-seeded Serena led off by beating Lisa Raymond 6-2, 6-0 in only 41 minutes on Court 1.

Serena then raced over to Centre Court to watch the fifth-seeded Venus record a pulsating 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over top-seeded Martina Hingis in just over two hours.

The sisters have played each other four times, with Venus leading 3-1. Thursday’s match will be the first Grand Slam semifinal between sisters.

In a women’s quarterfinal between two unseeded players, 17-year-old Jelena Dokic beat Magui Serna of Spain 6-3, 6-2 in 66 minutes. Last year, Dokic ousted Hingis in the first round and reached the quarterfinals.

Dokic will meet the winner of the match between defending champion Lindsay Davenport, the seeded No. 2, and No. 6 Monica Seles.

Finesse vs. Ferocious Hitting

While Serena Williams-Raymond was a one-sided mismatch, the Venus Williams-Hingis showdown produced spectacular tennis from both players.

The match featured the all-court finesse of Hingis against the ferocious hitting of Williams. While many points ended quickly with flashing winners, other rallies lasted more than 20 shots.

The match ended with Williams pounding an ace, her eighth of the day. She let out a shriek, bounded to the net and leaped high into the air with her left arm extended.

Williams went to the side of the court to grasp a large American flag unfurled by fans near the front row.

With a towel draped over her shoulders, she mouthed “Unbelievable” as she soaked in a standing ovation.

Proud Papa

In the guest box, Serena beamed and clenched her fists, while father Richard Williams doffed his cap and bounced up and down.

“It feels phenomenal,” Richard Williams said.

The elder Williams said he would bet 50 pounds — $75 — on each of his daughters, but would not watch Thursday’s match. He plans to attend a funeral instead.

“I don’t want to watch Venus beat up on Serena or Serena beat up on Venus,” he said.

Both players looked tired in the third set and showed signs of possible cramping, yet the quality of tennis remained superb.

Venus Williams, always the aggressor, had 50 winners in the match. Hingis, the counter-puncher, had 19.

Williams repeatedly stretched her legs in the final set. At one point during a service game, she went to her courtside chair for a drink, drawing a code violation for delay of play.

Williams took control of the first set when she broke Hingis at love for a 5-3 lead. Venus closed the set in the next game with her fourth ace.

The second set turned in the seventh game with the score 3-3. Putting constant pressure on Hingis’ serve, Williams hit a screaming backhand on her third break point. The ball seemed to nick the sideline, kicking up a puff of chalk. But the shot was called out, and Williams stared briefly in disbelief.

Hingis went on to hold. Instead of leading 4-3 with a break, Williams found herself 3-4 down.

Hingis broke for 5-3 but had trouble closing the set. Williams saved two set points and broke back for 5-4. The American saved two more set points in the next game and had a point for 5-5, but Hingis responded with a backhand drop volley.

Hingis finally converted on her fifth set point when Williams took a wild swing on a forehand half-volley, shanking the ball way wide.

From 2-2 in the second set, there were service breaks in 10 of the next 11 games, including eight straight at one stage.

Williams pulled ahead in the final set when she held serve in the sixth game. After taking her break for a drink at 40-15, she smashed a short overhead to hold for 4-2.

The two held serve the rest of the way, with Williams winning at love in the final game.

2nd Grand Slam Semifinal for Serena

Serena Williams had no trouble in recording her fifth consecutive straight-set victory. She has dropped only 13 games in the tournament.

The win sent the 18-year-old Serena into her second Grand Slam semifinal. She won the U.S. Open last year.

Serena Williams overwhelmed Raymond, serving nine aces and hitting a series of winners off her service return. Raymond persisted with a serve-and-volley tactic, only for Williams to respond with bullet returns that left the crowd gasping in awe.

After closing the match with a short backhand winner, Serena waved and blew kisses to the crowd, did a pirouette and shouted, “Yeah!”

Richard Williams started at Centre Court to watch Venus. When he shuttled to Court 1 for Serena’s match, the score was already 3-0 in the second. He stayed for two games, then headed back to Centre.

“Serena was running through that like a wild rabbit,” he said.

The men’s quarterfinals are scheduled for Wednesday.

Top-seeded Pete Sampras, chasing his seventh Wimbledon title and record 13th Grand Slam championship, goes against unseeded American Jan-Michael Gambill; No. 2 Andre Agassi faces No. 10 Mark Philippoussis; No. 12 Patrick Rafter plays unseeded Alexander Popp; and Byron Black is pitted against qualifier Vladimir Voltchkov.