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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 5, 2018 (News Wires) - Top seed and French Open champion Simona Halep reached the Wimbledon third round on Thursday with a 7-5, 6-0 win over China's Zheng Saisai.

World No 1 Halep, a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 2014, will face Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan for a place in the last 16.

The Romanian raced away with the 10 last games to beat the 126-ranked Zheng.

Britain's Johanna Konta joined the exodus of women's seeds at Wimbledon on Thursday, beaten 6-3 6-4 by Dominica Cibulkova, a player with a point to prove.

Konta became the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals since 1978 last year, losing to Venus Williams, but her hopes of repeating that thrilling run were crushed by an inspired Slovakian on a subdued Centre Court.

Cibulkova missed out on the 32nd seeding when Wimbledon's seedings committee bumped seven-times champion Serena Williams up the order and she played with a fierce intent throughout.

Konta, seeded 22, could do nothing to stem the tide of winners as Cibulkova stormed ahead.

She showed real guts to save four match points at 3-5 in the second set as the crowd rallied to the cause.

But Cibulkova showed no nerves as she served for victory, going 40-0 up and finishing off the Briton with a powerful first serve that Konta could only fend into the net.

"It feels great, it was a tough draw today and I could not be more happy with my performance," Cibulkova, twice a quarter-finalist, said. "I don't really think about the seeding now, I'll just focus on my tennis."

Cibulkova will play Elise Mertens for a last 16 spot.

Eugenie Bouchard's hopes of emulating her 2014 run to the final were hit for six by former professional cricket player Ashleigh Barty in the second round.

The Canadian, whose ranking has fallen to 188th from a career-high five in 2014, had to contest three qualifying matches just to make into the main draw at the All England Club.

The effort of winning four matches over the past week to get into round two appeared to have taken its toll on Bouchard as she could do little to stop 17th seed Barty storming back from 5-2 down in the second set to seal a 6-4 7-5 victory.

Bouchard even had a set point at 5-3 up on Barty's serve but the Australian, who took a two-year break from tennis in 2014 for a stint in professional cricket, wriggled out of that corner and won five games in a row to finish off her 24-year-old opponent.

The win carried Barty into the third round here for the first time. She will next face either 14th seed Daria Kasatkina or Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva.

LONDON, July 5, 2018 (News Wires) - The scoreboard said 6-4 6-3 6-4 to Rafael Nadal but it was an uneasy two-and-a-half hours for the Spanish world No 1 as he laboured past Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin into the Wimbledon third round on Thursday.

Two-time champion Nadal, 32, never quite got to grips with the unorthodox Kazakh's low, skidding shots and faced 13 break points in an entertaining Centre Court contest.

Had Kukushkin converted a few more of them it could have got really complicated for Nadal, who is still finding his grasscourt game after claiming an 11th French Open title.

Nadal took 10 minutes to hold his opening service game and was still being asked questions by the world number 77 in the third when he slipped 3-1 behind in the face of some inspired shot-making by his opponent.

The 17-times Grand Slam champion dug in though and managed to avoid being dragged further into the afternoon, claiming victory when Kukushkin's forehand smacked into the net tape.

Nadal will face Australian teenager Alex De Minaur next.

DJOKOVIC INTO THIRD ROUND

Novak Djokovic made it through to the third round with a straight sets win over Horacio Zeballos of Argentina.

The former world No 1, seeded 12th at the All England Club as he makes his way back from an elbow injury, won 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 for his 60th win at the tournament.

The three-time Wimbledon champion, more used to playing on the main Centre Court or Court One arenas, was in the strange position of playing on the 4 000-seater Court Two.

Djokovic had treatment on his left thigh in the third set but overcame the problem to see out the set.

He faces either British 21st seed Kyle Edmund or US qualifier Bradley Klahn in Saturday's third round.

CILIC SUFFERS SHOCK EXIT

Wimbledon 2017 runner-up Marin Cilic, a favourite to go far in the tournament again this year, suffered a shock 3-6 1-6 6-4 7-6(3) 7-5 defeat by Argentine Guido Pella.

The Croatian third seed began the day two sets up but 4-3 down on Pella's serve in the third, following Wednesday evening's halt for rain and found his opponent very much up for the fight.

Pella wrapped up the third set comfortably, then shaded an exciting fourth set that included two breaks of serve for each player with Pella taking command in the tiebreak to clinch it 7-3.

The deciding set went with serve until Pella clinched it on his fourth match point after Cilic had already saved two in the 10th game and another when 30-40 down.

WAWRINKA BOWS OUT

Stan Wawrinka's poor run at recent Grand Slams continued when the Swiss lost 7-6(7) 6-3 7-6(6) against Italian journeyman Thomas Fabbiano.

Wawrinka, winner of three Grand Slam tournaments, trailed by two sets overnight but was 6-5 ahead in the third when play resumed in muggy conditions.

He then had two set points in the tiebreak but could not convert either, spraying one backhand well wide, and the 29-year-old qualifier Fabbiano completed the biggest victory of his career.

Since reaching least year's French Open final Wawrinka has tumbled down the rankings from three to his current 224, mainly as a consequence of the knee surgery he required last year.

He lost in the first round of the French Open this year, the second round in Australia and at last year's Wimbledon he was knocked out in round one. He did not play the US Open.

Fabbiano, ranked 133rd, goes on to play either American Jared Donaldson or Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round -- the furthest he has ever been in a Grand Slam.

ISNER SAVES MATCH POINTS TO ADVANCE

John Isner almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory but survived to beat Belgian qualifier Ruben Bemelman in a delayed second-round match.

The American ninth seed eventually won 6-1 6-4 6-7(3) 6-7(6) 7-5 but he came desperately close to another Wimbledon failure.

On Wednesday, he led two sets to love and held a match point in the third set but the 105th-ranked Bemelmans stormed back to win two tiebreaks and level the match before rain intervened.

On the resumption Bemelmans came close to a big shock when Isner served at 4-5 and trailed 15-40 but he saved both match points with booming aces, two of the 64 he sent down -- the fourth highest total ever at Wimbledon.

Bemelmans tightened up at 4-5 and double-faulted on the way to being broken and Isner wrapped up victory, despite facing a break point, in the following game as he forced an error.

Isner now has the chance to record his best Wimbledon performance, having never been past the third round.

To achieve that he will have to get past Moldovan Radu Albot who beat Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in five sets.

 

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