WIMBLEDON, England — Serena Williams never lost her serve. Sister Venus had trouble even holding hers. And so one last all-Williams final at Wimbledon, where they’ve made so much history — and, in Serena’s case, still making it — is not to be.
Serena needed only 48 minutes to crush Russia’s bewildered Elena Vesnina, 6-2, 6-0, on Thursday in the first women’s semifinal on Centre Court, dropping only three of a possible 31 points on her serve. “Serve is very important for me,” Serena affirmed.
Important for anyone, and Venus looked fatigued, perhaps as much because of the autoimmune disorder, Sjogren’s syndrome, that she battles as well as being 36. She struggled with her serve, held it only five times in 10 attempts, and was defeated by Angelique Kerber of Germany, 6-4, 6-4.
“My plan was to be aggressive,” said Kerber, who didn’t notice Venus getting fatigued. “When she hits serve, sometimes you have no chance returning.” But not this time.
Thus, Serena Williams, 34, and Kerber, 28, will meet in tomorrow’s final, an encore of the Australian Open final at the end of January, which Kerber won, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
“I made a lot of errors in that match,” Serena said. “She was fearless. That’s something I learned. I, too, need to be fearless like she was. It still was a three-set match. I felt like I could have played better.”
She couldn’t have played any better than she did Thursday on an afternoon when the sun shone and the temperature in greater London made it into the 70s.
“I felt like I had no chance today,” said Vesnina, who, at 29 and ranked No. 50, was in her first Grand Slam semifinal. “Serena was playing really good. She was in a great mood, and serve was working really well for her . . . I was trying to do something to change the situation. But it just didn’t work today.”
Everything worked for the No. 1 seed and top-ranked Serena, who with a victory in the final would have her seventh Wimbledon title (Venus won five) and 22nd Grand Slam title, equaling Steffi Graf for second place on the all-time list. Margaret Court has 24.
Serena won Wimbledon in 2015 and arrived at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows with a chance to win all four majors, a true calendar Grand Slam, but was upset by Italy’s Roberta Vinci in the semifinals. After winning four Slams in succession, beginning with the 2014 U.S. Open, she has failed to win any of the last three.
“For anyone else in this whole planet,” she said of the reaching a third straight Slam final here at Wimbledon, “it would be a wonderful accomplishment. For me, obviously, it’s about holding the trophy. But I think that’s what makes me different. That’s what makes me Serena.”
This was the 19th Wimbledon for Venus, who said before the match, “I don’t think anyone feels older. You feel like you could go on forever.”
She couldn’t go on past the semifinals, although after her loss and Serena’s win, the sisters went out and got a three-set victory in doubles.
If Venus had won her semifinal, it would have been the fifth Williams vs. Williams final at Wimbledon and ninth at a major.
“I was steps away from making it to the end,” Venus said. “That’s the position I want to be in when I play. I haven’t played a match where my opponent hasn’t played well. Totally, I wanted to win, but what are you going to do? I ran into a better player. My plans are to be back next year.”
Serena’s are a little higher — to win this year.