Underdog ready for Serena Williams

for 5am THURSDAY

By Darren Walton

LONDON, July 6 AAP – Elena Vesnina is pledging to play the party pooper role and scupper tennis romantics’ hopes of another all-Williams Wimbledon final.

With a four-from-four record against Vesnina, top-ranked Serena Williams is a raging favourite to topple the Russian once more on Thursday to continue her seemingly relentless march to a seventh title and record-equalling 22nd grand slam singles crown.

But having already shown little care for sentiment and inspired by Angelique Kerber’s Australian Open final triumph over Williams, the world No.50 is ready to shatter Serena’s latest quest for sporting immortality.

“That’s a dream semi-final,” said Vesnina, who’s already removed her doubles partner Ekaterina Makarova ruthlessly from the draw.

“Nothing can be better than playing against Serena in semi-final on Centre Court at Wimbledon. It’s special.

“I need to try to win this match. You have to stick to your game, you have to be solid, you have to enjoy yourself on the court.

“I saw how Angelique was sticking to her game from the first till the last. She was not giving up.

“You have to use your chances against Serena.”

Kerber, chasing her second grand slam title in six months after waiting a decade for her first, also stands between a fifth sister act final as she takes on the resurgent Venus Williams in the second semi.

At 36, Venus is the oldest player to reach the Wimbledon last four since Martina Navratilova in 1994.

It’s been six years since the five-time champion experienced a grand slam semi, but the American says “it doesn’t feel foreign at all”.

Ominously, Venus is eight from eight in Wimbledon semi-finals, with Serena eight from nine – her only defeat coming at the hands of her big sister back in 2000.

“We’re just happy to be in the semi-finals. It’s so cool, it’s just great,” said Serena, admitting to being shocked that the two sisters’ careers were still going.

“I’m surprised at the longevity of it. That definitely took me by surprise.

“When you’re younger and you have a dream and you say it and you believe it, that’s one thing.

“But for it to really happen and to come true, it’s just a completely different emotion.”

WOMEN’S WIMBLEDON QUARTER-FINAL MATCH-UPS ON THURSDAY

CENTRE COURT (STARTING AT 2200 AEST)

1-Serena Williams (USA) v Elena Vesnina (RUS)

4-Angelique Kerber (GER) v 8-Venus Williams (USA)

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