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LONDON, July 13, 2018 (News Wires) - Serena Williams thinks of herself as Wimbledon royalty and the seven-time champion will be cheered on by her friend the Duchess of Sussex in Saturday's final against Angelique Kerber.

Just two months after attending her friend Meghan's wedding to the Duke of Sussex in Windsor, Serena will perform in front of the new royal on Centre Court.

"There's word on the street," Williams said when asked if Meghan would attend the final.

Told that Kensington Palace had announced the Duchess would be there, Serena smiled and said: "There you go. It came from the palace that she is coming on Saturday."

The American star is so close to Meghan that she postponed her pre-Wimbledon media duties to go with her to watch her husband Prince Harry play polo in Ascot.

Two weeks on from that outing, Williams has reached her first Grand Slam final since becoming a mother, only 10 months after giving her birth to daughter Olympia.

The 36-year-old will be the first mother to compete in a Wimbledon final since Australia's Evonne Goolagong in 1980.

Serena is well established as one of her sport's all-time greats and winning the title for the third time in the last four years – she missed the 2017 tournament due to her pregnancy – would only enhance her standing.

Responding to a question about her place in the Wimbledon hierarchy, the 23-time major winner said: "If there was a Wimbledon royalty, I would like to believe I would be Wimbledon royalty because I've done pretty well here in the past.

"I am a member, so that kind of counts."

If she beats Kerber on Saturday, Williams, who first won Wimbledon in 2002, will become the first mother to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish since Goolagong 38 years ago.

"Oh, wow. I never thought about that. That's pretty cool," Williams said of the British public's respect for her achievements.

"Honestly, I'm just me. I don't feel any different. I know that sounds weird, but I don't.

"That's an attitude I always want to keep, something I want to teach my daughter to always just have this humility. We're all human."

LONDON, July 11, 2018 (News Wires) - As Serena Williams prepares for her 35th Grand Slam semifinal, the American star says a fear of failure is driving her bid for an eighth Wimbledon title.

Williams avoided a major upset late on Tuesday as the former world No 1 battled back to beat unseeded Camila Giorgi 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a Centre Court thriller.

The 36-year-old's quarterfinal escape act set up a last four showdown with German 13th seed Julia Goerges on Thursday.

Serena hasn't won a Grand Slam since the birth of daughter Olympia in September and her last trophy came at the 2017 Australian Open.

"You're only as good as your last win. It's been a while since I've won a championship," Williams said.

But the 23-time major winner is heavily favoured to end her wait this week, fuelled by the thought of suffering the painful sting left by her rare defeats.

"I hate losing. I mean, that's no secret. But I feel like every time I lose, I get better," she said.

"It's important for me to have the losses. Just the fewer the better for me!"

Williams is playing only her fourth tournament since becoming a mother for the first time.

Having shaken off the rust following her lengthy lay-off after the complications with Olympia's birth, Serena is on the verge of a 10th Wimbledon final appearance and 30th in all four Grand Slams.

"Everything right now is a little bit of a surprise, to be here, to be in the semifinals," she said.

"I always say I plan on it. But when it actually happens, it still is, like, Wow, this is really happening."

With Olympia's arrival and her marriage to husband Alexis both taking place since Serena was last at Wimbledon, this year's campaign has a unique feel.

"It's different now obviously because I have the baby. Being a mom is totally different," she said.

"I just want to be more of that role model for my daughter, for lots of people out there that just want to be inspired.

"Here is some good news. Right now there's so much bad news in the world. We just need a good story."

Having won the title in the previous two years she played Wimbledon in 2015 and 2016, Williams, who missed last year's tournament due to her pregnancy, has extended her winning streak at the All England Club to 19 matches.

In contrast, Goerges is in the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time.

The 29-year-old had suffered five successive opening round defeats at the All England Club before this year.

It also took her until her 42nd Grand Slam appearance to finally get through to the last four at a major.

Yet Goerges insists she can cause an massive upset against Williams.

"It is a great opportunity to play Serena here where she has won so many times and is a great champion. I think everyone here has a great chance so you have to take it," Goerges said.

Angelique Kerber, the German 11th seed, faces former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the other semifinal.

Ostapenko struggled with the pressure of defending her maiden Grand Slam title, losing in the first round of the recent French Open.

But that lifted a weight off her shoulders at the All England Club, where she has become the first Latvian to make a Wimbledon semifinal.

The 21-year-old is the only female player yet to drop a set in this year's tournament.

"At the French Open a couple weeks ago I had so much pressure. It's now all gone," Ostapenko said.

"I'm just enjoying the moment. It's so much fun."

However, Kerber, beaten by Serena in the 2016 Wimbledon final, doesn't believe Ostapenko will be able to play completely free of anxiety with the title match within touching distance.

Kerber, the 2016 Australian and US Open champion, said: "I mean, the pressure is not always on my side. She (Ostapenko) won a Grand Slam, as well."

LONDON, July 10, 2018 (News Wires) - Serena Williams stayed on track for an eighth Wimbledon title as she fought back to beat Italian Camila Giorgi 3-6 6-3 6-4 in a fiercely contested quarter-final on Tuesday.

For the first time in the tournament the 36-year-old was seriously challenged as unseeded Giorgi fought fire with fire to claim the first set on Centre Court.

Williams responded by raising the intensity level and began striking the ball with ferocious power to break Giorgi's serve for the first time on her way to levelling the match.

World number 52 Giorgi dropped serve to love early in the decider but hung in gamely to at least make Williams serve to reach her 35th Grand Slam semi-final and 11th at Wimbledon.

Williams stepped up to the line at 5-4 and brought up match point with an ace before completing victory when Giorgi could only push a forehand into the net.

 

 

PARIS, May 25, 2018 (News Wires) - Three-time champion Serena Williams could face longtime rival Maria Sharapova in the French Open last-16 after Thursday's draw which also handed Rafael Nadal a dream route to an 11th title.

Serena, the champion in 2002, 2013 and 2015, will start against Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

Former world No 1 Williams, now ranked a lowly 453, is playing a Grand Slam for the first time since she won her 23rd major at the 2017 Australian Open after which she stepped off the tour to give birth to her daughter in September.

Pliskova, the twin sister of world No 6 Karolina, has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros.

Williams, 36, has played just four matches on the tour in 2018 and not featured at all since Miami in March.

Sharapova, champion in 2012 and 2014, could face Serena, against who she lost in the 2013 final at Roland Garros, in the fourth round.

The Russian, who missed last year's event after she was refused a wild card as she battled to rebuild her career following a 15-month doping ban, has not defeated Williams since 2004.

The American leads their head-to-head series 19-2.

Top seed and two-time runner-up Simona Halep faces Alison Riske of the United States in her opener while second seed and Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki starts against another American, Danielle Collins.

Top seed Nadal starts his bid for an 11th Roland Garros title against Ukraine's world number 54 Alexander Dolgopolov.

Nadal, fresh from an eighth Rome clay court title having also won his 11th trophies in Barcelona and Monte Carlo already this spring, has a 7-2 record over Dolgopolov.

"It's always special when I come back to Paris where I have had so many wonderful moments in my career," said Nadal at the draw ceremony ahead of the French Open which starts on Sunday.

One glance at the draw would have left the 31-year-old Spaniard feeling even more special after former champions Novak Djokovic, Stanislas Wawrinka as well as clay court dangerman Dominic Thiem all landed in the other half of the draw where Alexander Zverev is the second seed.

Nadal's path to the final could see him face childhood friend Richard Gasquet in the third round, possibly Denis Shapovalov in the last-16, then Kevin Anderson, who he beat in the 2017 US Open final, and third-seed Marin Cilic in the semifinals.

Zverev, who lost to Nadal in the Rome final last weekend, has never got beyond the third round in Paris and was defeated in the first round last year.

The 21-year-old German, who is seeded second in the absence of Roger Federer, begins his French Open against Ricardis Berankis of Lithuania.

Djokovic, the 2016 champion, starts against a qualifier and could meet Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round.

LOS ANGELES, May 2, 2018 - The first episode of “Being Serena,” a five-part documentary series on HBO about Serena Williams, closes with the tennis great in a hospital bed, about to have a C-section.

Just before the screen fades, a voiceover from Williams is heard: “I was terrified. And it was a whole new kind of fear. Tennis? I don’t think it ever felt so far away. And I don’t think my life ever felt so unsure.”

That is just one example of the images and words that show vulnerability the world is not accustomed to seeing — or hearing — from the owner of 23 Grand Slam singles championships, someone whose on-court game is built, at least in part, on intimidating power.

“Being Serena,” airing on Wednesday nights started this week, offers viewers a chance to feel as if they are getting to know the athlete better. There is the footage, including in the delivery room when Williams gave birth to her daughter on Sept. 1. And there are interviews, including with Williams; her husband, Reddit co-founder Alex Ohanian; her tennis-playing sister, Venus; another sibling; their mother; and Williams’ agent, Jill Smoller.

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. , March 9, 2018 (AP) - Walking on court for the first match of her latest comeback, Serena Williams allowed herself a rare smile. This time, tennis is different for the 23-time major winner. What didn't change is Williams winning.
She beat Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open Thursday night after a 14-month layoff for the birth of her first daughter.
"I almost cried before the match," Williams said. "I texted Alexis, I was like, is it normal that I want to cry? I really missed her, but playing at night really helped because I know she goes to bed and she goes to sleep. I can't like play with her right now."
With new husband and Reddit co-found Alexis Ohanian looking on, Williams played from behind until breaking Diyas in the 11th game of the first set. Diyas netted a forehand and Williams yelled, "Come on!" as the crowd cheered.
"Right now, for this particular tournament, I'm really just trying to take it easy and not put so much pressure or stress or expectation on myself," she said. "I feel like it's one of the few times I've been able to do that."
Williams has been away since winning the 2017 Australian Open early in her pregnancy. She gave birth to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. six months ago.
Williams is playing at Indian Wells under a protected ranking of 22nd. She hasn't been unseeded at a tournament since 2011 in Cincinnati.
"I'm playing with nothing to lose, I only can gain," she said. "For me, it's a real joy to be out here."
The half-full stadium warmly greeted Williams, with many fans giving her a standing ovation as she entered.
Williams served a love game capped by a 100-mph ace in her first service game. She had break points in the first and fifth games but couldn't convert. She started hitting harder and her familiar grunting returned when she tied the set 5-all.
Diyas and Williams traded service breaks early in the second set. Williams then broke her opponent again en route to winning the final five games in front of the half-full stadium. She smiled as she walked to the net, and her family gave her a standing ovation.
"It definitely wasn't easy," Williams said on court. "We always have a couple tight sets. It was good. I'm a little rusty, but it doesn't matter. I'm just out here on this journey and doing the best I can."
Also in Williams' box were her mother Oracene, sisters Lyndrea and Isha, her agent, and her coach Patrick Mouratoglou. Older sister Venus watched from a balcony seat in an upper-level box on a 68-degree night in the Southern California desert.
Ohanian bought four billboards along Interstate 10 outside Palm Springs in tribute to his wife. Now she's traveling the tour with her baby and sometimes her husband, when he isn't off working.
"I've never done this before," she said. "I know I'll make mistakes and I'm OK with that."
Williams' only competitive appearances since the birth came in December at an exhibition in Abu Dhabi, a Fed Cup doubles match with sister Venus last month and an exhibition in New York on Monday.