Effort rewarded: Venus Williams on her way to victory over Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in the Wimbledon semifinals on Tuesday. Picture: AFP
Effort rewarded: Venus Williams on her way to victory over Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in the Wimbledon semifinals on Tuesday. Picture: AFP

London — Venus Williams became the oldest Wimbledon semifinalist for 23 years, as the five-time champion brushed aside French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko, while Garbine Muguruza beat Svetlana Kuznetsova to make it back to the last four on Tuesday.

Williams’ 73-minute masterclass on Centre Court clinched a 6-3 7-5 victory, making her the most senior player to reach the semifinals since Martina Navratilova in 1994.

The US star, who reached the last of her eight Wimbledon finals in 2009, will face Britain’s Johanna Konta in the last four on Thursday. Konta beat Romania’s Simona Halep 6-7 (2/7) 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 to become the first British women to reach the semifinals in 39 years.

World No11 Williams, beaten in 2017’s Australian Open final, was knocked out in the 2016 semifinals and is chasing a first Major title since winning Wimbledon in 2008.

Williams’ victory equalled sister Serena’s total of 86 main draw match victories at Wimbledon, the most among any active player.

She will climb back into the top 10 thanks to her Wimbledon run, but breaking Serena’s record to become the tournament’s oldest champion in the Open era is her sole focus.

"I love this game. That’s why I put in the effort and the time. It’s a beautiful game. It’s been so good to me," Venus said. "The competition keeps you growing. You have to get better if you want to stay relevant."

Twenty years after making her Wimbledon debut, Venus was playing in her 100th singles match at the All England Club, while Ostapenko was in only her eighth. That gulf in experience was immediately apparent when Venus broke in the second game and cruised through the first set. Having stunned the tennis world by becoming the first unseeded player to win the French Open in June, Ostapenko was riding an 11-match winning streak at the Majors.

But Ostapenko, 20, was the youngest player left in the tournament and Venus has scythed through the draw by dispatching a series of opponents almost half her age, many of whom idolised the her when they were growing up.

Muguruza powered into her second Wimbledon semifinal in the past three years with an emphatic 6-3 6-4 win over Russian seventh seed Kuznetsova.

Since winning her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open in 2016, Muguruza has struggled to return to the top and this is her first Major semifinal since the Roland Garros win.

Muguruza, beaten by Serena in the 2015 Wimbledon final, will face Coco Vandeweghe or Magdalena Rybarikova — whose match was rained off on Tuesday — in the last four.

• Novak Djokovic criticised Wimbledon officials for making the "wrong decision" in postponing his fourth-round match to Tuesday after he eased into the quarterfinals a day later than expected with a 6-2 7-6(5) 6-4 win over France’s Adrian Mannarino. The contest was held over after the marathon battle between Rafael Nadal and Gilles Muller finished late on Monday.

Djokovic was due to follow Nadal on to Court One but the Spaniard’s four hours 48 minutes defeat by Muller did not finish till 8.35pm local time, which meant the Serb’s match could not be completed before dark.

The Serb, who had been stuck waiting for the end of that battle only to be sent home, said it would have been better to have moved his match to the, by then unused, Centre Court.

"I think it was a wrong decision not to play us last night, we could have played."


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