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Planet Venus in Serena’s sight

The Williams sisters are one round away from a third Wimbledon title matchup and seventh Grand Slam championship showdown.
Agencies | By HT Correspondent, Wimbledon
UPDATED ON JUL 02, 2008 11:09 PM IST

Don't tell Serena Williams that sister Venus is the one to beat at Wimbledon.

“I would never sit here and say she's the favourite when I'm still in the draw,” she said, bristling at the suggestion. “That's not me. I always believe that I'm the favourite. Even if I'm not the favourite, I'm always going to believe that I am.”

The Williams sisters, who between them have won six of the last eight Wimbledon titles, are one round away from a third Wimbledon title matchup and seventh Grand Slam championship showdown. Neither has lost a set so far, and their power games have set them apart from the rest of the women's field.

“That would be amazing if we both were in the final,” defending champion and four-time winner Venus said after beating Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-4, 6-3. Two-time champ Serena caught some of her sister's match before going out and sweeping Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-0.

“Watching the competition a little bit,” she said. Next up for sixth-seeded Serena on Thursday is Zheng Jie, who became the first Chinese player to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam by beating Nicole Vaidisova 6-2, 5-7, 6-1. The 133rd-ranked Zheng is also the first wildcard entrant to reach the women's semis at Wimbledon and second at any Grand Slam.

No. 7 Venus will next face No. 5 Elena Dementieva, who wasted a 5-1 lead and two match points in the second set before beating fellow Russian Nadia Petrova 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-3 to reach her first Wimbledon semifinal.

Venus was limping slightly at the end of her match with what she said was a tight left hamstring.

“I'm fine,” she said. “I'm walking around on two legs, doing good, so I'm not really concerned right now.”

The Williams sisters will be heavy favourites to meet in their first tour final since the 2003 Wimbledon championship. Serena won that match in three sets, following up her straight-set win over Venus for the 2002 title. Serena leads Venus 5-1 in Slam finals and 8-7 overall.

“We want to deserve to be there,” Venus said. “We have to play the best tennis to deserve it, so our aim is just to play better than our opponents and really deserve to be there.”

Meanwhile, Zheng, who lost her only previous meeting with Serena in the first round at Wimbledon in 2004, admits the American is the clear favourite.

“Serena is a two-time winner of Wimbledon and a very prominent player on the grass courts,” Zheng said. “Without a doubt she is an outstanding player and so far I haven't found any weak link.

“But as a first time semifinalist, I would rather enjoy the game than anything else. I lost to her in 2004 when she was the defending champion and of course, I hope for a better result this time.”

Zheng has already dumped out three seeds at Wimbledon, including world number one Ana Ivanovic, and Williams has respect for her performances over the last two weeks.

“I've been watching her play. I think she's doing a fabulous job and I don't think it's luck, her doing so well. I think she's a really good player,” Williams said.

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