Venus Williams handed out another lesson to one of Wimbledon’s young upstarts when she beat Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 7-5 Tuesday to become the oldest women’s semi-finalist for 23 years.
The five-times champion, who turned 37 last month, tamed the big-hitting Latvian with a rock-solid performance under the Centre Court roof, winning with something to spare.
Ostapenko turned women’s tennis upside down when she rocketed out of the pack to claim her first professional title at the French Open last month and the feisty 20-year-old appeared to be gathering momentum on the All England Club lawns.
A rare French Open/Wimbledon double looked within reach for Ostapenko who had struck 121 winners en route to the last eight.
But old maestro Williams, who had already schooled a 21-year-old and two teenagers en route to her 38th grand slam quarter-final, has seen it all before and barely flinched.
There was a wobble when she dropped serve with a double-fault in the second set – giving Ostapenko renewed belief – but she never looked ruffled as she reached the semi-finals here for the 10th time in 20 visits.
Making her Centre Court debut Ostapenko was a little more subdued than normal but received a glowing report from the veteran of 75 grand slam campaigns.
“She went for a lot of shots. She competed really well. She kept herself really in the game with her attitude. I thought she just did a lot of things really well and kept it close,” Williams, who made her Wimbledon debut in 1997, a few weeks after Ostapenko was born, told reporters.
“I never played her. Didn’t really know what to expect. I was really happy to come out on top.”
Since winning Wimbledon in 2008, her seventh major, Williams has only reached the final here once, losing to Serena in 2009.
But without her younger sibling for company this time, however, a sixth title beckons.
Johanna Konta sealed a Wimbledon semi-final spot in a feast of tension-filled tennis, powering past Simona Halep 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 6-4 to become the first British woman to reach the last four in almost 40 years.
The second-seeded Romanian shaded the early Centre Court exchanges, pouncing on errors and breaking serve to lead 3-0, as the Briton struggled to keep her searing groundstrokes in court.
But with cheers and cries of “C’mon Jo” echoing around the roofed-in arena, sixth seed Konta fought back, cranking up her serve and winning eight straight points to draw level at 4-4.
Halep won the first set on a tiebreak with Konta, having squandered a clutch of break points, returning the favour in the second.
The intensity moved up a notch in the third set as the Briton hit harder and the Romanian tightened her defence before Konta broke in the fifth game and held her nerve to serve the match out.
Virginia Wade was the last British woman to reach the semi-finals in 1978.
Spain’s 2015 runner-up Garbine Muguruza advanced confidently into the semi-finals with a calmly efficient and well-controlled 6-3 6-4 victory over Russian seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion who lost to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final the previous year, had just that bit more control in a hard-hitting baseline duel to follow up her victory over top seed Angelique Kerber on Monday.
Novak Djokovic criticised Wimbledon officials for making the “wrong decision” in postponing his fourth round match to today after he eased into the quarter-finals 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 concluded late on Monday.