Angelique Kerber booked a Grand Slam rematch with Serena Williams after battling past five-time champion Venus Williams in the semifinals of Wimbledon.
WTA Staff

LONDON, Great Britain - No.4 seed Angelique Kerber is back into the final of a Grand Slam for the second time in 2016 after battling past five-time champion Venus Williams at Wimbledon, 6-4, 6-4.

Both players got off to a wobbly start, opening the match with five consecutive breaks of serve before Kerber grabbed the first hold for a 4-2 lead.

"I think we were both just returning very well at the beginning of the first set," Kerber explained during press after the match. "And, I mean, I was a little bit nervous when I went out there because I was trying to play my best tennis and I know how well Venus was playing. My serve was not the best at the beginning."

Venus, who at age 36 became the oldest player to advance to the semifinals of a Grand Slam since 1994, started off the match sluggishly. Match fatigue could have played a role as Venus (10 hours, 18 minutes) has spent about four hours more on court than Kerber (six hours, 15 minutes) and that's not even counting the doubles matches she's played.

The German took full advantage, though, and employed her go-to tactic by keeping Venus running from alley line to alley line, throwing her off balance before firing a forehand down the line for a winner.

The former No.1 refused to wilt, and broke back once again to mount a comeback and force Kerber to serve for the set for a second time. Venus' forehand wing - which had been the more vulnerable side throughout the match - let her down as she dumped a forehand into the net to concede the first set to Kerber.

After the seven breaks of serve in the first set, Kerber kept it simpler in the second and broke Venus right away. Though Venus kept up scoreboard pressure on the German - even saving three break points in a 14-shot rally - she couldn't find a way to attack Kerber's serve and get back on even terms.

Kerber ended another marathon point with a zinging passing shot to clinch the match after an hour and 13 minutes for a spot into her career-first Wimbledon final.

"It's just amazing to beat Venus in the semis. It's always a tough match against her," Kerber said afterward. "She's a champion and she won so many times here. I'm just so happy about my game and to make my first final at Wimbledon."

Across the net awaits a familiar opponent: with World No.1 Serena Williams already through in the first match of the day, Saturday's Wimbledon final will be a rematch of the 2016 Australian Open final where Kerber edged Serena in three sets to win her first Grand Slam title.

That's no small feat, as it's been exactly a decade since the last time a Grand Slam final rematch happened in the same year - in 2006, Amelie Mauresmo beat Justine Henin at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

But despite the good omen, Kerber isn't putting much stock on stats and history, and will head into the final with a blank slate.

"It's a completely new tournament, a new surface, everything is completely new," she said. "She lost a final against me so I know she will go out and try everything to beat me.

"I will just try to go out there like in Australia, trying to show her, okay, I'm here to win the match, as well.

"I know that I have to play my best tennis to beat her in the final here."