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Venus Williams heading to 9th Wimbledon final, awaits Muguruza

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Venus Williams heading to 9th Wimbledon final, awaits Muguruza

LONDON — All these years later, Wimbledon still brings out the best in Venus Williams.

With her latest display of gutsy serving and big hitting, Williams beat Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2 on Thursday to reach her ninth title match at the All England Club and first since 2009.

At 37, Williams is the oldest Wimbledon finalist since Martina Navratilova was the 1994 runner-up at that age.

Williams also stopped Konta's bid to become the first woman from Britain in 40 years to win the country's Grand Slam tournament.

"I couldn't have asked for more, but I'll ask for a little more. One more win would be amazing," Williams said. "It won't be a given, but I'm going to give it my all."

She will be seeking her sixth Wimbledon championship and eighth Grand Slam singles trophy overall. Her most recent came in 2008, when she defeated her younger sister, Serena, for the title at the All England Club. A year later, she lost the final to Serena.

In the time since, Williams revealed that she was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, which can sap energy and cause joint pain. As time went on, there were questions about whether she might retire, especially after a half-dozen first-round losses at major tournaments. But she kept on going, and lately has returned to winning.

Her resurgence began in earnest at Wimbledon a year ago, when she made it to the semifinals. Then, at the Australian Open in January, Williams reached the final, where she lost to -- yes, you guessed it -- her sister. Serena is off the tour for the rest of this year because she is pregnant.

"I missed her so much before this match. And I was like, `I just wish she was here.' And I was like, `I wish she could do this for me,'" Williams said with a laugh. "And I was like, `No, this time you have to do it for yourself.' So here we are."

On Saturday, the 10th-seeded American will participate in her second Grand Slam final of the season, and 16th of her career, this time against 14th-seeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain.

"She knows how to play, especially Wimbledon finals," Muguruza, the 2015 Wimbledon runner-up and 2016 French Open champion, said about Williams. "It's going to be, like, a historic final again."

Muguruza overwhelmed 87th-ranked Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-1 Thursday.

Williams arrived in England a few weeks after being involved in a two-car accident in Florida; not long afterward, a passenger in the other vehicle died. At her initial news conference at Wimbledon, a tearful Williams briefly left the room to compose herself after being asked about the crash.

She has tried, coach David Witt said, to "just focus on the tennis."

In the semifinals, it was Konta who had the first chance to nose ahead, a point from serving from the opening set when it was 4-all and Williams was serving down 15-40.

Williams erased the first break point with a backhand winner down the line, and the second with a 106 mph (171 kph) second serve that went right at Konta's body. It was a risky strategy, going for so much pace on a second serve, but it worked. That opened a run in which Williams won 12 of 13 points.

She wouldn't face another break point and produced another impressive second serve -- in the second set, at 103 mph (166 kph), it went right at Konta, who jumped out of the way.

Konta played quite well, especially early, and finished with more winners, 20 to 19, each greeted by roars from the Centre Court spectators.

"They could have really been even more boisterous. I thought the crowd was so fair. And I know that they love Jo, and she gave it her all today," Williams said. "It's a lot of pressure. It's a lot of pressure. I thought she handled it well. I think my experience just helped a lot."

This was her 10th semifinal in 20 Wimbledon appearances; Konta had never been past the second round at the grass-court tournament before this year.

In the other semifinal, Muguruza won 15 of the first 20 points en route to a 5-0 lead. Even though Rybarikova entered having won 18 of her past 19 grass-court matches, mostly at lower-level tournaments, she suddenly looked a lot more like someone whose career record at Wimbledon before last week was 2-9.

"Not my best day," Rybarikova said. "But she didn't give me much chance to do something."

Muguruza won the point on 19 of 25 trips to the net and had a 22-8 edge in winners.

That earned the 23-year-old Muguruza a berth in her third career Grand Slam final, second at the All England Club. She lost to Serena Williams with the title on the line at Wimbledon in 2015, then beat her at Roland Garros last year.

"I'll have to ask Serena for some pointers," Venus Williams said. "Serena's always in my corner. And usually it's her in these finals, so I'm trying my best to represent `Williams' as best as I can."

Serena Williams wins Open record 23rd Grand Slam, beats sister Venus

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Serena Williams wins Open record 23rd Grand Slam, beats sister Venus

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Serena Williams has won her record 23rd Grand Slam singles title, and her sister was right there on court to give her a congratulatory hug.

The all-Williams final -- the first at the Australian Open since Serena won the first edition of the family rivalry here in 2003 -- went to the younger sibling 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday night.

With her record seventh Australian title, the 35-year-old Williams moved ahead of Steffi Graf for the most major titles in the Open era. Margaret Court has the all-time record and was also in the crowd for the final at Rod Laver Arena.

Court won 24 majors, but collected 13 of those before the Open era which began in 1968 after the sport became professional.

The victory also ensured Serena Williams will regain the top ranking, which she lost in September after 186 straight weeks when Angelique Kerber won the U.S. Open.

It was Serena's seventh win in nine all-Williams Grand Slam finals, and the first since Wimbledon in 2009. It was 36-year-old, No. 13-seeded Venus Williams' first trip back to a major final in 7 years.

Serena sat on the court, holding both arms up to celebrate, before Venus walked over to her sister's side of the net for a hug.

"This was a tough one," Serena Williams said. "I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus, she's an amazing person -- she's my inspiration.

"There's no way I would be at 23 without her -- there's no way I would be at one without her. Thank-you Venus for inspiring me to be the best player I can be and inspiring me to work hard."

Williams has won 15 majors since last losing to Venus in a Grand Slam final, at Wimbledon in 2008. That was the seventh and last major title that the older of the Williams sisters won.

Venus hadn't made the second week of a major for a few years as she came to terms with an energy-sapping illness since being diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome in 2011, and made her return to the semifinals at Wimbledon last year.

"She's made an amazing comeback ... I don't like the word comeback," Serena Williams said. "She's never left. She's been such a great champion."

The match didn't live up to its classic billing, with nerves and tension causing uncharacteristic mistakes and unforced errors and four consecutive service breaks before Venus finally held for a 3-2 lead in the first set. That included a game when Serena had game point but served back-to-back double-faults and three in all to give up the break.

There were six service breaks in all. Both players were relatively subdued, except for Serena's racket smashing spike on the court in the third game that earned her a code violation.

After the fourth game, however, Serena Williams didn't face another break point in the 1-hour, 22-minute match.

"Serena Williams, that's my little sister, guys. Congratulations Serena on No. 23," Venus said. "I have been right there with you. Some of them I have lost right there against you. It's been an awesome thing, your win has always been my win, you know that. All the times I couldn't be there, wouldn't be there, didn't get there, you were there."

Venus stayed in the match with 21 winners, and won the longest rally of the match, but couldn't seem to keep up with her sister as the match progressed.

In terms of total years, it was the oldest Grand Slam women's final in the Open era with the Williams sisters combining for 71 years, 11 months. Roger Federer will be aiming to increase his all-time men's record to 18 when he takes on 14-time major winner Rafael Nadal on Sunday night, completing the singles finals lineup of all 30-somethings.

The Bryan twins missed out on a doubles record late Saturday, losing the final 7-5, 7-5 to Henri Kontinen of Finland and John Peers of Australia.

The third-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan were trying to win their 17th Grand Slam title, which would have tied them with John Newcombe for the most titles all-time.

Serena got a little bit superstitious Down Under, and hadn't wanted to talk about the No. 23. "Now we can talk about it," she said.

Now there's a limited-edition racket -- 23 to be released, with proceeds going to The Serena Williams Fund -- and a pair of custom-made shoes -- sent by former NBA star Michael Jordan. It had Jordan's usual jersey number No. 23 stamped on the heel, helping to provide some synchronicity for the numbers involved.

Wimbledon: Serena, Venus Williams win doubles; 2-trophy day for Serena

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AP

Wimbledon: Serena, Venus Williams win doubles; 2-trophy day for Serena

LONDON -- Serena Williams is leaving Wimbledon with two trophies, teaming with her older sister Venus to win a women's doubles final that began a little more than 3 hours after the singles final ended Saturday.

The American siblings won their sixth doubles championship at the All England Club and 14th as a pair at all Grand Slam tournaments by beating fifth-seeded Timea Babos of Hungary and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-4.

Earlier Saturday, also on Centre Court, Serena collected her 22nd Grand Slam singles title with a straight-set victory over Angelique Kerber in that final.

"I had just enough time to change and get my ankles re-taped," Serena said about going from one match to the other. "But there was so much adrenaline. I didn't want to cool down too much."

Venus sat in the guest box during the singles final.

"Watching Serena earlier was so amazing, and I was so into that. And then you have to re-set yourself and say, `OK, we've got to play a match and we're going to have to try to win,'" Venus said during a joint interview with the BBC after the doubles. "So she brought the energy from Game 1 and that really brought me up, too."

The Williams sisters also won doubles titles at Wimbledon in 2000, 2002, 2008, 2009 and 2012. Each time, one or the other also won the singles championship, with Serena doing it in 2002, 2009 and 2012 in addition to this year.

They're now 14-0 in major doubles finals. But they were unseeded this time because they play doubles so infrequently, and their most recent Grand Slam title before Saturday had come four years ago at the All England Club. Until playing at the French Open in May, they hadn't even entered a doubles draw at any major tournament since 2014.

They're planning to compete in doubles, in addition to singles, at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next month. They already have won three gold medals in doubles, at the 2000, 2008 and 2012 Summer Games.

When they were asked during the BBC interview which one is in charge of their doubles team, Serena immediately pointed toward Venus and said with a laugh, "She's definitely the boss."

And Venus said: "Well, I'm the older sister, so it kind of falls on me. But (there are) different times on the court that we both take over. So whatever the team needs, it kind of happens organically. That's the best kind of team."

Shvedova, who lost to Venus in the singles quarterfinals this week, was trying to win her third Grand Slam doubles title, after teaming with Vania King for trophies at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2010. Babos has never won a major doubles trophy; she was the runner-up with Kristina Mladenovic at Wimbledon in 2014.

In men's doubles, Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert defeated Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-3 to win their first Wimbledon title. It was the first all-French Grand Slam men's doubles final of the Open era.

The victory gives Mahut a happier memory from the grass-court tournament where he lost the longest match in tennis history, 70-68 in the fifth set against John Isner in the first round of singles in 2010.

"We talk a lot about this match already. I'm very proud of it," Mahut said, referring to the contest that lasted more than 11 hours, spread over three days. "But now it's something different. Now I can come in the press conference as a Wimbledon champion. It's great."

This is the second major title together for the top-seeded team of Mahut and Herbert, who won the U.S. Open last year.

They're only the second pair of Frenchmen to earn the doubles trophy at the All England Club in the Open era, which began in 1968. Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra won Wimbledon in 2007.

Benneteau and Roger-Vasselin won the 2014 French Open doubles championship.

Mahut knows Benneteau and Roger-Vasselin rather well, having won ATP doubles titles with each of them in the past. Mahut and Benneteau even had success together as teens, collecting seven junior doubles titles in 1999.