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Serena chases two titles in one day

Serena and Venus Williams play Lisa Raymond and Liezel Huber in the semi-finals.
by Benjamin Snyder
Friday 6 July 2012

Serena Williams, a finalist in the Ladies’ Singles against Agnieszka Radwanska on Saturday, will now be playing to take home two titles on Saturday. Joined by older sister Venus, the 12-time Grand Slam-winning team defeated top seeds and fellow Americans Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Of the possibility of claiming another Wimbledon title, Serena told reporters, “Oh, my gosh, it would mean a lot to me.” She continued, “That would be awesome. I have two chances to get one title, and hopefully I'll be able to do something.”

In the first set, the sisters appeared sluggish, Serena serving at only a fraction of her usual power when attempting to stay in the first set. Hitting her signature shot at a fraction of its power at around 80mph, the younger sister, who’s struck her fastest of the tournament at 120mph, was broken after a series of errors off her racket. Down 30-40, she committed her fourth mistake of the game to concede the set 6-2.

In the second set, however, the sisters came out stronger by breaking the Raymond service to earn a 1-0 lead. The sisters would then reel off the next eight of nine games, claiming the second set in 28 minutes to bring the score in the third to 3-0.

Raymond, however, made easy work of her service game as the match seemed to be slipping away. The 38-year old, and 2011 US Open champion with Huber, claimed four straight points by coaxing return errors from her compatriot opponents, while her South African-born teammate struck a volley winner.

At 4-1, Serena replied to the momentary lapse in play by hitting a 101mph serve down the centre line, replicating the serve that struck her record 24th ace during her Ladies’ Singles semi-final match versus Victoria Azarenka. They would later break Huber’s serve for the set at 5-1 with Venus hitting a forehand passing shot on the first set point.

Up 5-2 in the third, the sisters again demonstrated the two-time Olympic gold medal-winning form. With Serena first striking a backhand volley winner to grab a 30-0 lead, it was Venus’s turn to increase her level of play. The five-time Wimbledon champion hit a backhand winner followed by an un-returnable forehand volley on match point. With the victory, the sisters advanced to their first Wimbledon final since 2009.

Their opponents, as they attempt to claim their fifth Wimbledon doubles title together, will be the No. 6 seeds Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic. Winners over Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta, Hradecka and Hlavackova appeared flat in the first set, losing it 6-2 in 20 minutes. The semi-finalists at the Australian Open and Roland Garros earlier this year picked up their level of play over the next two sets, like the Williamses.

In the third, especially, the Czech team proved their seeding as they found themselves stronger mentally, despite being down six break points on Hlavackova’s serve. The duo held steady under pressure at 15-40 and found their way to deuce with a Pennetta return error and a Hradecka winner.

A bout of erratic play, however, made the game difficult for either team to close out. After deuce number 10, the 2010 Roland Garros finalist Schiavone struck three straight errors, including two off her one-handed backhand to level the set at 2-all.

Four consecutive holds brought the score to 4-all when the Czech team again showed their ability to compete on the big points. Racing to a 30-0 lead on Pennetta’s serve, a Hlavackova volley winner and a Schiavone backhand mistake on a first break point handed them the 5-4 lead.

In the final game, Hradecka proved particularly powerful on serve, drawing three straight errors from her opponents. She closed the match with an ace, celebrating with a shriek of excitement and sharing a hug with Hlavackova seconds later.

Although the Italians were the ones flashing smiles for the fans gathered on the No. 3 Court after particularly good points during the match, it was the 2011 US Open champions, the Czech team, who ultimately shed tears of joy as they advanced to their first Grand Slam final on the grass of the All England Club.

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