LONDON, July 3 – Serena and Venus Williams will meet in the Wimbledon final for the fourth time after a rollercoaster Thursday which witnessed epic drama as well as a farcical no-contest.Serena reached her fifth final with a 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 8-6 win over Elena Dementieva where she saved a match point in the longest semi-final in the tournament’s history.
The American second seed’s 2hr 49min victory went a long way to restoring some desperately-needed credibility to the women’s game.
But Russian top seed and world number one Dinara Safina then suffered a spectacular Centre Court meltdown when five-time champion Venus coasted to an embarrassingly one-sided 6-1, 6-0 victory in just 51 minutes.
It was the most one-sided women’s semi-final in 40 years.
Venus, who beat Serena in the 2008 final, will be playing in her eighth Wimbledon title match.
"It’s my eighth final here and it’s a dream to be able to have the opportunity to hold the trophy again" said Venus.
"Dinara is a talented player but I have more experience on Centre Court and that helped a lot. It’s so exciting to play Serena again, that will be the hard part."
While more questions will be raised over Safina’s world number one ranking when she has yet to win a major, two-time champion Serena was praising Dementieva who fell in the semi-finals for the second successive year.
"It was really tough. Elena has been playing so well," said Serena, who saved match point at 4-5 in the final set.
"At match point I just thought it’s my serve, just stay calm and think positive."
Dementieva was left to regret her missed match point.
With Williams approaching the net, the Russian went cross-court, rather than down the line, and the American gleefully accepted her opportunity with a simple saving backhand.
"That’s my only regret. I should have taken more of a risk by going down the line," said the 27-year-old Dementieva.
"A passing shot is my favourite shot to make. Maybe it was all too quick. I didn’t see that she was moving to cover the cross-court. I should have gone down the line or even used a lob."
Olympic champion Dementieva, who had won three of the pair’s last four meetings, defied predictions of a one-sided encounter by breaking the American in the first game although Williams hit straight back.
The Russian bravely fought off three break points in the eighth game before going on to dominate the tie-break despite a nervous double fault on the first of three set points.
Williams, stung by the Russian’s all-out assault, broke straightaway in the second set and was quickly 2-0 ahead. But Dementieva refused to yield and broke back to love in the sixth game for 3-3.
Williams, bidding to reach a fifth Wimbledon final, fought off two break points in the eighth game, but nipped ahead on a break to 6-5 when the American successfully challenged a ball which had been called good by the linesman.
Dementieva wasted four break points in the 12th game and was made to pay when Williams sent down a 12th ace to level the contest.
The Russian blonde broke a weary-looking Williams to lead 3-1 in the decider, but handed the advantage straight back with a tense service game.
Williams, with the experience of having won 10 Grand Slam titles in her career, saved a match point in the 10th game with a backhand volley.
The 2002 and 2003 champion capitalised on her escape by breaking to lead 7-6 and took the match when Dementieva pushed a return wide.
Safina suffered a Centre Court horror show, committing 16 unforced errors to Venus’s one and was beaten on a first match point when she netted a lazy return.
Despite the defeat, Safina, still searching for a Grand Slam breakthrough, will remain world number one next week.