Serena Williams is two wins away from tying Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles in the Open Era after surviving a three-set marathon against fellow American Alison Riske 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Tuesday at Wimbledon.
The 11th-seeded Williams is seeking her eighth Wimbledon title and will face unseeded Czech Barbora Strycova in the semifinals on Thursday.
First, the 37-year-old had to get by Riske, who had already played four three-set matches just to reach the final eight of the women’s draw for the first time. The 29-year-old knocked out No. 22 seed Donna Vekic, No. 13 Belinda Bencic and top-ranked Ashleigh Barty along the way.
Riske dropped the opening set but battled back to force a third set and was serving to tie it at 4-4 when she double-faulted to give Williams the break she needed.
Williams, who had earlier dropped a service game in which she had been up 40-15, was able to close out the match with her 19th ace.
“You know, it was really satisfying,” she said in her post-match interview. “I wouldn’t have won that match a couple of weeks ago. Every match here has really helped me and has really counted. I’m glad that I was able to come through.
“She honestly was playing so great. She beat so many great players. And, oh my God, she was really so close to really taking the win today.”
After serving out the match, Williams pumped her fists, turned toward her box and yelled, “Let’s go!”
“I was really pumped, obviously,” she said. “It was for a place in the semis in Wimbledon, and that doesn’t happen every day. It’s a long, arduous road. It’s not easy, so I was really pumped.”
Williams is 3-0 against the 33-year-old Strycova, including a straight-sets win in the first round here in 2012.
Strycova reached her first Grand Slam singles semifinal with a 7-6 (5), 6-1 win over No. 19 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain. Strycova tallied 22 winners and just nine unforced errors, compared to 28 winners and 34 unforced errors for Konta.
No. 7 seed Simona Halep of Romania and No. 8 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine will square off in Thursday’s other semifinal. Svitolina has won four of their seven prior clashes, but this is their first meeting on grass. Halep defeated Svitolina in the Doha semifinals in Qatar in February.
Halep rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the opening set to beat unseeded Zhang Shuai of China 7-6 (4), 6-1. Halep saved four break points to avoid a 5-1 hole in the opener and then eased through the second set with two late service breaks.
Svitolina reached her first Grand Slam semifinal with a tight 7-5, 6-4 victory against unseeded Czech Karolina Muchova.
Svitolina had lost her four previous Grand Slam quarterfinal matches, including the Australian Open in January.