Serena dishes out inevitable defeat to Sharapova

Thu Jul 9, 2015 3:37pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

LONDON (Reuters) - When all Serena Williams had to do was stand and watch poker-faced while Maria Sharapova banged down two double faults in a row to surrender the first game of their Wimbledon semi-final a sense of inevitability descended over Centre Court.

So what if the duo went on to contest another 17 games, or that Sharapova burst some eardrums with her ear-splitting shrieks -- the result was never in doubt as Williams brokered a 17th successive win over the clueless Russian to set up a final with fresh-faced Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.

So commanding was Williams's performance that not a single strand of her cascading black hair, spilling out of a high ponytail, looked out of place as the top seed twirled around in triumph following the brisk 6-2 6-4 workout.

The result propelled her into a 25th grand slam final but more importantly for the American, she now stands one win away from completing what she calls a "Serena Slam" by winning all four majors concurrently.

If Williams pulls off the feat for the second time in her career, no one can accuse her of taking the easy route to glory as Sharapova became the third former world number one, after sister Venus and Victoria Azarenka, she has beaten this week.

"Whenever I have to play Maria, I know I have to be focused because she wasn't the best in the world for no reason," said the 33-year-old, who will be gunning for her 21st grand slam title on Saturday.

While seeing Williams on the world's most famous tennis stages come finals day has become a familiar sight in the past 15 years, standing on the opposite side of the net will be a little-known Venezuelan-born Spaniard who once hated playing on grass.

The 20th-seeded Muguruza became the first Spanish woman in 19 years to reach the title showdown after Agnieszka Radwanska discovered the perils of on-court coaching that led to a botched Hawk-Eye challenge in the last game of her 6-2 3-6 6-3 defeat.   Continued...

Serena Williams of the U.S.A. hits a shot during her match against Maria Sharapova of Russia at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 9, 2015.   REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth