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Serena Williams beats Maria Sharapova for 17th straight time

Serena Williams celebrates after a point against Maria

Serena Williams celebrates after a point against Maria Sharapova during their women's semifinal match on Day 10 of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, London, on July 9, 2015. Credit: Getty Images / Glyn Kirk

WIMBLEDON, England - Everyone knows the best part of Serena Williams' game is her serving -- she had 13 more aces Thursday while sweeping through her Wimbledon semifinal -- but her bewildered opponent, Maria Sharapova, pointed out another Williams asset.

"I think one of the things she does extremely well is to take [herself] from a defensive position to offense. I was not able to do that," Sharapova said after losing to Williams a 17th consecutive time.

Nor has anybody else in a major tournament during the last year. Williams' thundering 6-2, 6-4 victory over Sharapova on Centre Court was her 27th in a row in a Grand Slam tournament. Her last loss in one of the big-four tournaments came here a year ago, to Alize Cornet in the third round.

In the Slam before that, the 2014 French Open, Williams was stunned by a young woman from Spain, Garbine Muguruza, who coincidentally will be her opponent in Saturday's final.

Muguruza, 21, a clay-court specialist who has adapted quickly to the grass of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, outlasted 2012 finalist Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

There are all sorts of numbers connected to Williams, not the least of which is her age, 33, which is on the far side of the sport. She's in a Wimbledon final for an eighth time, having won five times. She's 18-2 against Sharapova, with the two defeats coming in 2004, one of those in the Wimbledon final.

Williams needs a victory in this final for a second "Serena Slam," holding all four major titles at once (in a two-season span).

She needs the Wimbledon victory and then a title at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows in September for the true Grand Slam, winning the four majors in a calendar year, last done by Steffi Graf in 1988.

She again waved off talk about the Grand Slam. "I don't want the pressure of that," she said. "When you talk about it every time, you can't help but think about it. It's been OK just to free my brain from that."

She also suggested that Jordan Spieth -- who will try to keep his hopes of a golf Grand Slam alive in the British Open next week at St. Andrews -- avoid discussions of the possibility.

"Well, I would definitely tell him -- maybe he should read this -- definitely in the press conference, 'Don't ask no questions about no Grand Slam.' That will help him out."

The remark drew laughter.

There were no laughs for Sharapova, though. Whatever she tried didn't work against a woman who has 20 Grand Slam titles to her five.

"I think," Sharapova said, "she had better depth on her shots. That certainly makes a big difference. And she's able to come up with the goods with that serve."

That serve has produced 68 aces in six Wimbledon matches. Three came in the final game against Sharapova, plus a service winner.

Williams said she can match shots with anyone. "I feel good when I'm in a baseline rally, because that's my game,'' she said. "I love rallying, running, hitting. That's kind of like my strength."

Williams is No. 1 in the WTA rankings. Muguruza is 20th. "But she's beaten me before," Williams said of Muguruza's 6-2, 6-2 second-round victory at Roland Garros, "so she knows how to win. She knows what to do. It's a different situation. So I think it puts her in a unique position where she has an opportunity to become Wimbledon champ."

A position Williams knows well.


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