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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 12, 2018 (News Wires) - Eight-time champion Roger Federer was sensationally knocked out of Wimbledon by South African giant Kevin Anderson while Rafael Nadal edged Juan Martin del Potro in a Centre Court epic and will meet Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.

Defending champion Federer lost a Court One thriller, 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 as 32-year-old Anderson became the first South African in the Wimbledon semifinals since Kevin Curren in 1983.

"Down two sets to love I tried my best to keep fighting. Beating Roger Federer here at Wimbledon will be one I remember, especially in such a close match," Anderson said.

"I kept telling myself to keep believing. I said today is going to be my day."

In a nail-biting four hour and 13 minute classic, it was 36-year-old Federer's earliest exit at the All England Club since his shock second round defeat against Sergiy Stakhovsky in 2013.

"Sometimes you don't feel good, and you try your best. Today was one of those days. I didn't see it coming," said Federer.

"I had moments where I was great, I felt like I was reading his serve, other moments where I don't know where the hell I was moving to."

Eighth seed Anderson will play American ninth seed John Isner on Friday for a place in Sunday's final.

Three-time champion Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, reached his first semifinal at the majors in more than two years by seeing off Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

The 12-time Slam champion will face old rival and world No 1 Nadal who saw off Del Potro 7-5, 6-7 (7/9), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 after four hours and 48 minutes on Centre Court to reach his sixth Wimbledon semifinal and 28th at the majors.

For the only the second time at Wimbledon, Federer was beaten after holding a two-set lead, with his previous loss from that position coming against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the 2011 quarterfinals.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion appeared to be moving towards his fifth successive Wimbledon semifinal after taking the opening two sets.

That initial burst gave Federer 34 successive sets won at Wimbledon, equalling his own record set between 2005 and 2006.

But, playing on Court One for the first time in three years, Federer was unusually error-prone.

Anderson had failed to take a single set off Federer in their previous four meetings.

Yet once he had ended Federer's run of holding serve for 85 consecutive games – a streak dating back to last year's semifinal – Anderson's confidence soared.

Only once before had Federer played more games at a Grand Slam and on that occasion, he prevailed 16-14 in the 2009 Wimbledon final against Andy Roddick.

But this time Federer cracked, serving his first double fault at 11-11 in the decider to give Anderson the crucial break that ushered the Swiss to the exit door.

Victory on Wednesday gave Nadal his 11th win in 16 meetings against the fifth seed Del Potro as the Spaniard stayed on course for an 18th Grand Slam title.

"I think it was great quality tennis and in the final set there were some amazing points," said 2008 and 2010 champion Nadal.

"Sorry to Juan Martin, he's an amazing opponent and player. In some ways he deserves to win as well.

"Anything could have happened, so this is a big achievement for me to get to the semifinals at Wimbledon.

"In the last set there was a little of everything, great points, great rallies, he was hitting crazy with his forehands."

Djokovic, who leads his epic head-to-head rivalry with Nadal 26-25, reached his eighth Wimbledon semifinal and 32nd at the majors after a stormy Centre Court clash against Nishikori.

It will be the 31-year-old Serb's first semifinal at a Slam since the 2016 French Open when he completed the career Grand Slam.

The 12-time major winner prevailed despite picking up two code violations and accusing umpire Carlos Ramos of "double standards".

"I think the first warning was unnecessary," said Djokovic, who was sanctioned in the second set for spearing his racquet into the court.

"It didn't harm the grass. Kei did the same in the fourth set but wasn't warned.

"The umpire said he didn't see it. I don't think it's fair but it is what it is."

Despite his anger – and picking up a time violation in the fourth set – 12th seed Djokovic still reeled off 10 of the last 12 games.

US ninth seed Isner made the semifinals of a major for the first time with a 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (9/7), 6-4, 6-3 win over 2016 runner-up Raonic.

LONDON, July 11, 2018 (News Wires) - Three-time champion Novak Djokovic reached his eighth Wimbledon semifinal on Wednesday with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over Japan's Kei Nishikori in a stormy Centre Court clash.

Djokovic, 31, will be playing in his 32nd Slam semifinal where he will face either world No 1 Rafael Nadal or fifth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro.

It will be Djokovic's first semifinal at a major since the 2016 French Open when he completed the career Grand Slam.

The 12-time major winner prevailed despite picking up two code violations and accusing umpire Carlos Ramos of "double standards".

"I think the first warning was unneccessary," said Djokovic, who was sanctioned in the second set for spearing his racquet into the court.

"It didn't harm the grass. Kei did the same in the fourth set but wasn't warned.

"The umpire said he didn't see. I don't think it's fair but it is what it is."

Despite his anger, Djokovic still reeled off 10 of the last 12 games of the quarterfinal.

"It feels great to be back in the last four of a Slam. I've been building in the last couple of weeks and my level of tennis is going up," he said.

"I am peaking at the right moment."

After racing through the first set, Djokovic was handed his first code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct after bouncing his racquet into the grass in frustration at squandering three break points in the third game of the second set.

"Do you think I ruined the court?" he bellowed at Ramos.

The 2011, 2014 and 2015 champion was clearly unsettled by the dispute, quickly surrendering the set.

Djokovic saved three break points in the fifth game of the third and made the Japanese star pay by breaking for 4-2 and an eventual two sets to one lead.

Nishikori, who had won only two matches in 15 meetings with the 12-time major winner, broke for 1-0 in the fourth but was broken straight back.

Djokovic's mood was not improved by Ramos choosing not to punish Nishikori for imitating his earlier offence of bashing a racquet into the ground.

"Double standards, my friend," screamed the former world No 1.

Ramos then hit Djokovic with a time violation warning for taking too long to serve in the seventh game of the fourth set.

But the 12th seed was not to be denied as he raced into the last four, hitting an impressive 40 winners on the way.

Nishikori, playing in his first quarterfinal at the All England Club, was bidding to become the first Japanese man to make the Wimbledon semifinals in 85 years.

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 4, 2018 (News Wires) - On a tennis court in London, former British number one Tim Henman is training a somewhat unusual group of candidates to become ball boys and girls for a tournament in December - dogs.

The canines try to catch tennis balls as well as sit still as Henman lists the traits they need to succeed at the tryout to become “ball dogs”: “Lightning speed, endless endurance and good concentration”.

The dogs are being trained for the Dec. 6-9 Champions Tennis event held each year at London’s Royal Albert Hall with a host of veteran tennis names.

“Fingers crossed they will all be good enough to make the final cut and appear at this year’s Champions Tennis event,” Henman said.

“I’d love to play alongside them in December. The dogs’ enthusiasm and desire to fetch would certainly make it even more of a fantastic spectacle and no doubt they’d get more attention than the players.”

“Ball dogs” are not a novelty in tennis, with them already having appeared on court at the Brazil Open.

The dogs still have some training to do before organizers decide whether they will be working alongside the tournament’s ball boys and girls.

Running for more than 20 years, the Champions Tennis event features former Grand Slam winners and numbers ones, with the likes of Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe previously taking part.

Henman and Goran Ivanisevic are among those confirmed to participate this year.

BIRMINGHAM, June 21, 2018 (News Wires) - World No 5 Elina Svitolina continued her good form on grass ahead of Wimbledon, easing her way into the quarterfinals of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham.

The second seed Ukrainian found her rhythm early in the contest and powered past France's Alize Cornet 6-4 6-2 in one hour and 22 minutes.

The 23-year-old, chasing her first grand slam title, will hope to improve on her last-16 appearance at last year's Wimbledon, when she lost to Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko.

"I was expecting a good match and she (Cornet) was producing some great rallies," Svitolina said.

"She plays well against the top players, she beat a couple of them in the past, and she really steps up her game. I'm very happy with the performance today."

Japan's Naomi Osaka was forced to retire due to an abdominal injury in her last-16 clash against Dalila Jakupovic, with the Slovenian qualifier leading 6-3.

"It's never nice to win when somebody's injured," the 27-year-old Jakupovic said. "I was trying to focus on my play, and I didn't really look on her side. I hope (Osaka's) going to be better for the next tournaments."

Jakupovic will next take on Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova, who mounted a comeback to win 3-6 6-2 6-1 against world number 56 Kristina Mladenovic.

Rybarikova, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals last year, converted five break point opportunities and struck five aces in the encounter, which finished in just under two hours.

Meanwhile, Japan's Yuichi Sugita shocked Dominic Thiem to send the Austrian out in the second round of the ATP Halle grass court event, 6-2, 7-5,

Third seed Thiem, French Open runner-up to Rafael Nadal earlier this month, was joined on the sidelines of the pre-Wimbledon tuneup by Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori, a 6-2, 6-2 loser to Karen Khachanov.

In 2017, the 36th-ranked Russian also beat Asia's top player in the second round at Halle, when Nishikori was forced to quit with a hip injury.

Thiem switched over to grass this week and came to the court with a first-round win in northern Germany at a venue styled as a smaller replica of the All England club's iconic Centre Court at Wimbledon.

"Sugita played really well, and gave me little chance to attack," Thiem said. "I was missing a few percentage points on my game.

"I was not great on returns and was sruggling on serve. He completely deserved the victory."

The Austrian was on the back foot early as he lost the opening set to his 52nd-ranked opponent.

Sugita was unable to convert on three match points but hammered his sixth ace to claim victory on a fourth after 88 minutes.

The Japanese will be playing a grass court quarterfinal for the second time in his career when he takes on American qualifier Denis Kudla, who defeated Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4.

Against Thiem, who leads the ATP with 36 match wins this season, Sugita kept up the pressure on his rival's serve, forcing the Austrian to save 10 of 13 break points before dropping serve in the last game.

Nishikori has a mixed record at the Wimbledon tune-up event, dominated over the past decade and a half by Roger Federer with nine titles.

The world No 27 Japanese is coming back from wrist injury problems and working to rebuild his ranking, which once placed him firmly in the Top 10.

He began 2018 by playing a lower-level Challenger tournament before returning to the ATP in February.

The 28-year-old reached the Halle semifinals in 2014 and 2015 but also exited injured in 2016 and a year ago, when he quit against Khachanov trailing 3-2 in the first set.

"I made too many unforced errors, I had a lot of mistakes," Nishikori said.

"He was playing good, but nothing special, I couldn't make a first serve and I should have stayed back more at the baseline.

"Khachanov hits a flat ball and that makes it not so easy on grass. I need to train more before Wimbledon."

Khachanov advanced to a Friday quarterfinal against Spanish fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, a 6-4, 7-5 winner over Dutchman Robin Haase.

Khachanov managed seven aces against his Japanese opponent, who was broken four times.

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