Serena Williams advanced to her seventh Wimbledon final on Thursday, using a historic serving performance to defeat No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-6 (6). She'll face Agnieszka Radwanska in Saturday's final.
The four-time tournament champion hit a tournament record 24 aces, the final one hitting chalk in the middle of the court on match point. That total also ties an all-time WTA record. That she was able to set it in a two-set match against a reigning Grand Slam champion is even more staggering.
The win comes five weeks after Serena suffered the worst defeat of her career -- a first-round loss at the French Open to lightly regarded Virginie Razzano. The loss brought upon the requisite "is Serena done?" stories. She quieted those fairly quickly with her six wins on grass.
Serena was once again dominant on her serve in the match, continuing the run she's been on at the All England Club. She won 94 percent of first-serve points in the first set, 76 percent in the second set and 73 percent of her points on serve overall. She had no double faults in the match.
Performances like this almost make you wonder why Serena can't do it every time. It was so easy for her on Thursday. Her serve, already considered the best in women's tennis history, was as great as ever. She defeated the recent No. 1 player in the world and it didn't feel close. Even when Azarenka was hanging tough in the second set, it never seemed as if she could actually win.
Now Serena enters her second Grand Slam final since injuries forced her out of the sport for parts of 2010 and 2011. She'll find herself the heavy favorite to win, a position she was also in last year in the U.S. Open final against Sam Stosur. In that match, Stosur slugged it out with Serena and maintained her composure after Serena's outburst toward a chair umpire. Radwanska plays a different game than Stosur. She plays stellar defense and extends points. But no amount of defense can counter Serena if she's serving like this.
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