Johanna Konta's hope of becoming the first British female to claim the Wimbledon singles title in 40 years is over after Venus Williams produced a classy display to reach her ninth final at SW19. The American prevailed 6-4 6-2 to storm into the final on Saturday [15 July] where she will face Garbine Murguruza.
Following Andy Murray's exit from the men's draw Sydney-born Konta was the last remaining British hope of individual success, but she was unable to cope with the pressure of the occasion. Five-time champion Williams broke in game 10 of the opening set after saving break points at 4-4 before a second break early in the second confirmed her 87th career win at the All-England Club.
Konta, the number six seed, had the home crowd on her side but on just her second appearance at the semi-final stage of a grand slam looked overwhelmed by the occasion. Williams in stark contrast settled quickly on her 21st outing in the last four of a major and after dismissing an early scare never looked back in pursuit of a berth in the final.
A place in the final comes after a troubling build-up to the tournament for Williams - who at 37 can become the tournament's oldest champion - after she was involved in a traffic accident in which a man was killed. But the evergreen seven-time major winner showed no after-affects from that tragedy by waltzing through with a virtuoso display.
"I've played a lot of finals here," said Williams. "One more win will be amazing. It won't be a given but I'll give it my all. The crowd were very nice to me. The crowd were so fair, I know they love Jo. I think Jo handled the pressure. No point was easy. I tried to climb on top and get another point."
To keep pace with the American Konta knew she had to take every opportunity which came her way, and an opening did present itself in the eight game of the opening set, after a cautious start by both players. But from the moment Williams saw them off the momentum of the match swung the way of the veteran.
Williams broke Konta in the very next game as the 26-year-old failed to serve to stay in the set and once into the ascendancy one of the great front-runners in the women's game never looked back. The ferocious atmosphere inside Centre Court was dampened when Williams clinched an early break when two net cords fell her way; taking the wind out of Konta's sails.
The result was secure when Williams broke Konta for a second time, taking her third match point with a stunning pass down the line to take another step towards ending her wait for a grand slam title, dating back to 2008, which would be the first since she was diagnosed with the debilitating disease Sjögren's Syndrome six years ago.
Between Williams and her sixth title in south London is Muguruza after she needed just 65 minutes to see off grand slam semi-final debutant Magdalena Rybarikova. The 2015 runner-up produced another display laden with big-hitting to overwhelm the 22-year-old Russia who was defeated 6-1 6-1 in another one-sided final.
"Rybarikova is a very talented player," said the 2016 French Open champion. "I stepped up on court super confident. I've been in this situation so I know how to handle better. I hope I keep it up for the last match and I hope it goes my way. Being in a Grand Slam final - they are great occasions. I want to win whoever I face."