Venus and Serena Williams won in contrasting fashion Thursday to set up their fourth all-sister Wimbledon final and eighth meeting in a Grand Slam title match.
Two-time champion Serena saved a match point and overcame Elena Dementieva 6-7 (4), 7-5, 8-6 in 2 hours, 49 minutes. Five-time winner Venus needed only 51 minutes to overwhelm Dinara Safina 6-1, 6-0 and reach her eighth Wimbledon final.
“Oh my God, this is my eighth final, and it’s a dream come to true to be here again and have the opportunity to hold the plate up,” Venus said.
The sisters — with 17 Grand Slam titles between them — will face each other Saturday in a Fourth of July final.
“A fourth final — it’s so exciting. It was so hard before my match to watch all that drama,” Venus said, referring to Serena’s semifinal. “It was so difficult. But the hardest part is next to come, to play Serena Williams.”
One Williams or the other has won seven of the past nine championships at the All England Club. Serena beat Venus in the 2002 and ’03 finals here, while Venus came out on top against her younger sister last year.
Venus is bidding to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1991-93 to win Wimbledon three years in a row.
There have been seven previous all-Williams championship matches at majors, with Serena holding a 5-2 lead. Overall, the sisters are tied 10-10.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Serena Williams saved a match point and overcame Elena Dementieva 6-7 (4), 7-5, 8-6 in a riveting contest Thursday to advance to the Wimbledon final and another possible championship match against sister Venus.
Serena, a two-time Wimbledon champion, was pushed to the limit by the fourth-seeded Russian but raised her game when she needed in one of the most compelling women’s matches at the All England Club in years.
Dementieva, who has never won a Grand Slam title, played one of the best matches of her career and nearly eliminated a player who has won 10 majors and combined with Venus to dominate at the All England Club for the past decade.
The 2-hour, 49-minute classic ended when Dementieva sailed a backhand wide, Serena threw her head back, pumped her arms and hopped up and down in celebration.
“Elena played so well, and we gave the crowd a wonderful match,” Serena said. “It was really, really tough.”
In the 10th game of the final set, Serena faced match point on her serve with Dementieva ahead 5-4. Serena chose to attack, coming forward and hitting a backhand volley that skipped off the net cord and into the open court for a winner.
“I thought ace,” Serena said. “It’s my serve, if I can just stay calm. I was just trying to think positive.”
It was Serena’s eighth straight win in a Grand Slam semifinal going back to the 2003 French Open. She is now 14-2 overall in Grand Slam semifinals.
The result sets up the possibility of a second straight and fourth overall women’s final here between the Williams siblings. One Williams or the other has won seven of the past nine championships at the All England Club.
Defending champion and five-time winner Venus faced top-ranked Dinara Safina in the day’s other semifinal.
“I’m going to come out and watch Venus and cheer her on and hope the best,” Serena said. “I obviously want her to win so, Go V.”
Venus is bidding to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1991-93 to win Wimbledon three years in a row and is trying for No. 6 overall. Serena beat Venus in the 2002 and 2003 finals at the All England Club.
There have been seven all-Williams championship matches at majors, with Serena holding a 5-2 lead. Overall, the sisters are tied 10-10.
The men’s semifinals are Friday, with five-time champion Roger Federer facing German veteran Tommy Haas, and two-time finalist Andy Roddick playing Andy Murray. Federer is closing in on a record 15th Grand Slam championship, while Murray is seeking to become the first British men’s winner in 73 years.
Serena Williams and Dementieva had both sailed through the tournament without dropping a set or facing a stern test. On this day, they traded wicked groundstrokes, big serves and brought tense drama to Centre Court.
The tension was almost too much for Serena’s father, Richard Williams, who watched with other family members and friends in the guest box.
“Serena did it the hard way,” Richard said. “This is the first time I ever got nervous at a tennis match. I’ve never gotten nervous before. Serena played the way she practiced this morning. She practiced bad and she played bad. But she’s just so mentally tough that she did it ‘The Williams Way.’ She hates losing.”
Serena served 20 aces and had 45 winners and 28 unforced errors. Dementieva produced 27 winners, 26 errors and eight double faults.
Serena, accustomed to starting fast and seizing command early, found herself having to rally from a set down.
It was Serena, surprisingly, who wilted in the tiebreaker, committing two unforced forehand errors to give the Russian a chance to serve for the set at 6-4. Dementieva double-faulted on the first set point, but converted on the second when Serena hit a forehand return wide and nearly spiked her racket to the turf in anger.
There were two crucial video replays in the second set that helped Serena mount her comeback.
Facing a break point and the possibility of going down 5-3, Serena hit a deep forehand down the line that Dementieva let go thinking the ball was out. Following a challenge, the video replay showed the ball was in — just touching the line where the baseline and the sideline meet. Serena saved another break point in the game with a forehand winner and held for 4-4.
Then, with Dementieva facing a break point in the 11th game, the Russian hit a short forehand that skipped off the netcord and near the sideline. The ball was called good. Serena challenged, and the replay showed the ball wide, giving her the break and the game for a 6-5 lead.
Serena served out the set in the next game, saving four break points and hitting four aces.
Dementieva was up a break at 3-1 in the third, but Serena kept fighting and broke back for 3-2. When Serena fell behind 30-40 on serve in the 10th game, it was Dementieva’s chance to win the match. In a seven-stroke rally, Dementieva tried to pass Serena at the net but the American came through with the backhand volley to stay alive.