Sport  |  Tennis  

Venus, Muguruza through to Wimbledon semifinals

By Jacob Akindele   |   12 July 2017   |   3:14 am

US player Venus Williams returns against Japan’s Naomi Osaka during their women’s singles third round match on the fifth day of the 2017 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE


Venus Williams powered her way to the semifinals at the Championship with a 6/3, 7/5 domination of reigning French Open Champion and rising star, Jelena Ostapenko from Latvia. The other one-time Grand Slam winner, Garbine Muguruza also powered her way to victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, 6/3; 6/4. The Williams’ show on Centre Court added epithets to her history-making career.

It seemed a good omen for Ostapenko that she won the toss and elected to receive. However, the decision back-fired as her opponent hammered three aces in winning the first game. The unsettled Ostapenko lost her opening serve and Venus held to lead 3-0.

The red sign of danger woke up the charming Ostapenko, as she raced to 40-0 in her service, which she held to the applause of the entire stadium crowd.Although Williams had three game points at 40-0, she lost two before slamming the door to lead 4-1. Ostapenko raised the speed of her serve and was rewarded with the sixth game. Serving with accuracy and pace, Williams held easily to lead 5-2 and forced Ostapenko to deuce before holding serve to reduce the tally 5-3.

Facing a Williams serving for the set, Ostapenko dropped the first two points with a succession of unforced errors and forced an equal number from her opponent who delivered a service winner to clinch the set in a match time of 29 minutes.

Ostapenko opened proceedings and held serve with a forehand winning shot. Although Williams raced to 30-0 on her serve, she faced a break point at 30-40 before delivering an ace serve to advantage and game. The lost opportunity affected Ostapenko as she lost her serve in the third game. Williams held for 3-1 but conceded a break in the sixth game. A match looked in the offing. With her regained confidence, Ostapenko hit a backhand winner to win the seventh game to lead for the frist time in the match. Williams served her way through to level four games apiece.

With the two holding serve, the tally was 5-all until Ostapenko lost the 11th game to hand Williams the opportunity to serve for the match. Williams did not drop a point on her way to 6-5 set and match victory, over a period of one hour and 13 minutes.

In the other quarter-finals match, the 2015 French Open Champion, Garbine Muguruza took the first set 6-3. In the second set, she broke Kuznetsova’s serve to win the fifth game. In the sixth game, Muguruza was pushed to deuce by her experienced opponent but held to lead 4-2. The Russian veteran held her serve to reduce the tally.

To avoid any pressure, Muguruza needed to hold her serve and she dropped only one point to win and lead 5-3. Kuznetsova also held serve in the ninth game. Serving for the match, Muguruza powered to match point and held to win set 6-4. The victory was attained in a match time of 75 minutes.

Both matches were classic confrontations between one generation and another. Kuznetsova is 32 years old while Garbine is 23. The archivists dug up much about the Ostapenko/Williams encounter. Williams was playing her 100th match at Wimbledon and her victory made her the oldest player in the semi-finals since Martina Navratilova did so in 1984. Williams is winner of grand slams. Her young opponent was aiming at maintaining her Grand Slam match winning streak to 12 and a victory over Williams would have admitted her into the top 10 in WTA rankings.

In relating sports to life, archives bring meaning deeper than the trivia of hitting a yellow ball across a net. They revealed that the 20-year Jelena was only 13 days old when Venus made her Wimbledon debut in 1997. After her victory, the philosophical Venus capped it all by saying: “Winning never gets old at any stage of your career.”


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