1. Archive


Three-time Wimbledon champ rolls into final vs. unheralded Russian.

Times wires

WIMBLEDON, England - After Serena Williams moved within a victory of her fourth Wimbledon championship and 13th Grand Slam title overall, she was asked to assess the woman she will face in Saturday's final, little-known Vera Zvonareva of Russia.

"I don't think she does anything terrible. I think that's the best way to describe her game," Williams said. "She does everything good."

Later came a follow-up: Is there anything Williams herself does "terrible" in tennis or in life? She hemmed and hawed, then replied, "I don't know. That's a good question."

It's difficult to find any flaws in Williams' play right now. The No. 1-ranked American has won all 12 of her sets this fortnight, set a Wimbledon record with 80 aces in the tournament, and reached a third consecutive final at the All England Club by beating Petra Kvitova 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 Thursday.

"Well," the defending champ said, "I'm hoping to still peak in the final."

That must be a daunting prospect for the 21st-ranked Zvonareva, who eliminated Tsvetana Pironkova 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the other women's semifinal.

Zvonareva is the second-lowest-ranked woman to reach a Wimbledon final, had never gotten past the fourth round here, and will be playing in a title match for the first time in 30 Grand Slam tournaments.

"I always believe in myself. I don't care about what everyone says," said Zvonareva, who drapes a towel over her head during changeovers to block distractions. "I know if I play my best tennis, I can beat anyone. ... I never look at any odds or comparisons."

So she might not know that Williams is 12-3 in major finals. Or care that Williams has won five of their six meetings.

"On paper, it looks like I should win," Williams said. "But Vera, she's beaten some good people. Her last two matches, she's been down a set, so she's obviously a fighter."

On Thursday, Williams took over by breaking to 3-2 in the second set, thanks to four miscues by Kvitova. She hit seven aces, reached 119 mph and didn't face a break point in the second set.

While acknowledging Williams' serving is "a very big advantage," Zvonareva also said: "There will be moments where she doesn't make a first serve. I haven't seen anyone make 100 percent of first serves."

In the other semifinal, Pironkova didn't show any nerves early, breaking Zvonareva's serve to lead 4-2 and winning the first set by mixing speeds and limiting mistakes.

It took 59 minutes for Zvonareva to earn a break point, which she did in the second set's sixth game. Zvonareva's groundstroke winner made it 4-2, and she shook her fist. Zvonareva took 10 of the last 13 games, winning 29 of 35 points overall when she went to the net.

Williamses fined: Venus and Serena Williams were fined $4,000 each for skipping a news conference after their loss in the doubles quarterfinals. Serena said she was "shocked to hear" about the penalty, adding that the sisters rarely speak to the media after Grand Slam doubles matches other than finals.

Henin ailing: Seven-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin says she will withdraw from the U.S. Open after partially tearing a ligament in her right elbow in a fall at Wimbledon. She said the injury will keep her off the tour for about two months.

fast facts

Women's final

Serena Williams (1) vs. Vera Zvonareva (21)

TV: 9 a.m. Saturday, Ch. 8