LONDON (AFP) – Seven-time champion Serena Williams is just two wins away from equaling Margaret Court’s Grand Slam titles record of 24 but she wobbled several times in her Wimbledon quarterfinal against Alison Riske on Tuesday.
The 37-year-old, who recorded her 97th success at Wimbledon to move second on the women’s all-time list, came under enormous pressure from her fellow American before prevailing in an engrossing contest, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in just over two hours.
Standing in Williams’s way in what is her 12th Wimbledon semifinal will be unseeded Czech veteran Barbora Strycova, who scored an impressive 7-6 (7/5) 6-1 victory over Britain’s 19th seed Johanna Konta.
The American says she will not be taking the 33-year-old lightly as she has ousted four seeds on her run to the last four.
“She’s good on the grass,” said Williams of Strycova.
“She knows what to do. She has a good all-around game. She’s incredibly tricky. It’s definitely not easy. But it’s something I’m definitely geared up for.
Also joining her in the last four was Romania’s former world number one Simona Halep, who fought back from 4-1 down in the first set to beat China’s Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.
For Halep – who aside from Williams was the only player in the quarter-finals to have won a Grand Slam, taking the French Open last year – it is her second Wimbledon semi-final.
Halep will play Elina Svitolina, the Ukraine eighth seed, after she came back from a break down in each set to beat Karolina Muchova 7-5, 6-4.
It will be the 24-year-old Ukrainian’s first Grand Slam semi-final.
Williams, whose total of 97 Wimbledon match wins compares to the 83 combined of the other seven quarter-finalists, will look back on her victory with some relief.
Riske converted all five of her break points while Williams succeeded with just six of her 16 opportunities.
However, she relied on her power to keep her in the match.
In doing so she managed to avoid the fate that befell world number one Ashleigh Barty at the hands of Riske on Monday.
Seventh seed Halep, who ended the run of 15-year-old Coco Gauff on Monday, took the match by the scruff of the neck once she won the first set.
“I fought hard in the first set, even if I was down 4-1,” said 27-year-old Halep.
“I have energy, I feel fresh, I feel healthy, I feel confident when I step on the court.”
For Svitolina breaking new ground in terms of her career is exciting enough.