Venus Williams into WTA Stanford final

Venus Williams has beaten fellow American Alison Riske 6-1 7-6 (2) to reach the final of the WTA tournament in Stanford, California.

Williams faces Johanna Konta in the final after she defeated Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova 6-4 6-2 in the first semi-final to reach her first career title decider.

Konta also became the first British woman to reach the championship match at Stanford since Virginia Wade was runner-up in 1981.

Leading 5-4 in the second set with a chance to close it out, top-seeded Williams squandered a pair of match points when she committed three straight double-faults.

Even when the 36-year-old Williams missed her first serve, the big kick on the second attempt regularly set up her up to dictate points early in the match before she struggled to stay in rhythm in the second.

Williams breezed to take a quick one-set lead until Riske found a groove and returned well.

She dug out shots with her strong baseline game to keep pressure on Williams, who looked like vintage Venus for much of the match on an especially hot summer night for the Bay Area.

Once she reached the tiebreaker, Williams told herself to leave those struggles behind.

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