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Serena Williams goes 3 sets to get past Azarenka

Serena Williams celebrates winning a point in her

Serena Williams celebrates winning a point in her ladies singles quarterfinal match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during day eight of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 7, 2015 in London. Credit: Getty Images / Shaun Botterill

WIMBLEDON, England - In a country of royalty, Serena Williams seems destined again to ascend the throne of ladies tennis. And if things go right, to make history by winning the true Grand Slam, all four major tournaments in a calendar year.

Williams dropped the first set to Victoria Azarenka Tuesday in their Wimbledon quarterfinal, but then, utilizing power unfathomed by other women, rebounded for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory.

Asked the difference between Serena and other women players, two-time Australian Open winner Azarenka gasped, "Did you see the 24 aces?" (It was only 17, but still that was too many for Azarenka). "That's almost a set of aces. That was a big difference."

That's Williams' game, especially on the grass courts of Wimbledon, big serves that keep an opponent off balance. "We just saw today why Serena is No. 1," Azarenka said. "I haven't seen her play like this, honestly, even in the last matches before that."

Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe, two other American women, each reaching a major tournament quarterfinal for the first time, didn't have Williams' thunder.

Agnieszka Radwanska, who lost to Williams in the 2012 final when Serena took her fifth Wimbledon championship, defeated Keys, 7-6 (6), 6-3. Maria Sharapova, who has won all four of the Slams, beat Vandeweghe, 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-2.

In the other quarter, Garbine Muguruza of Spain beat Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, 7-5, 6-3. In Thursday's semifinals, Radwanska, of Poland, faces Muguruza, and in the feature, Williams plays Sharapova for a 20th time, having won 17 of the previous 19, including in the final of this year's Australian Open.

"I love playing Maria," Williams said. And why not?

Williams has won 20 majors, including the first two on this year's schedule, the Australian and the French. She had won all four in succession -- the Serena Slam -- from the French Open of 2002 to the Australian of 2003. No one since Steffi Graf in 1988 has won the true Grand Slam, all of them in a calendar year.

"No mention of the Slam," Williams said to the BBC as she walked off Centre Court. So she was asked about the match against Azarenka.

"I do believe and I hope I can serve better," Williams said. "But I mean I always try to serve big on grass. That's my game, just aces. I felt like I was never really up, so I need to go back and look at this match."

Vandeweghe, whose late grandfather Ernie played for the Knicks, and uncle Kiki, who also was in the NBA, insisted she enjoyed the experience, if not the result.

"I have goals set definitely for the rest of the year," she said. "I think this is a good steppingstone, to follow into the U.S. Open summer series."

Keys said some key points in the first set against the more experienced Radwanska decided the match.

"I think she played very well," Keys said. "She wasn't making very many mistakes. I think for the most part, I was dictating a lot of points. But again, that's why she's so good. She can get to lots of balls and makes you hit the extra ball."

Everyone knows why Serena Williams is so good. She's a superb athlete who overcomes any technical mistakes with unmatched determination.

"I wasn't surprised," Azarenka said, "because I know she's going to do everything to win there. I was trying to stay focused, but she really stepped it up at the key moments."

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