Record ace blitz puts Serena in man's world

Serena Williams reached a seventh Wimbledon final on Thursday, taking her aces total to 85, an intimidating statistic which also makes her the second most powerful server in the men's tournament.

The 30-year-old American buried Victoria Azarenka under a firestorm of 24 aces in her 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) semi-final win, a record for a women's match at Wimbledon, beating the 23 she hit in the third round against Zheng Jie.

The four-time champion has now piled up 85 aces for the tournament, 51 more than closest rival Sabine Lisicki.

It's a total which even puts her second on the men's list where only Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber hit more aces with 98.

Williams has fired down one more than American men's 10th seed Mardy Fish who finished his campaign on 84.

"Actually during the match I thought I didn't serve well. I thought, Gosh, I got to get more first serves in. I had absolutely no idea about the record," said Williams.

"It really didn't feel like I hit 24 aces at all. I honestly felt like I hit maybe 10. Like I wasn't going for that much. I was just going to play well, to serve well, to do the best I could.

"I just got to watch the film. I thought my serve was off, and apparently clearly it wasn't, so...maybe I should be off a little more."

When asked to summarise her serve, Williams was more definite, especially having hit the 120mph mark, the fastest serve of the competition along with Lisicki.

"Mean," was her assessment of the weapon that is widely expected to blow away third seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in Saturday's championship match and allow her to claim a 14th major and fifth Wimbledon.

Williams will start as the hot favourite having beaten world number three Radwanska, the first Pole in a major final in 73 years, in their two meetings without dropping a set.

That includes the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2008 where the American lost just four games.

"I've been working so hard, I really wanted it," said Williams, the first 30-year-old to reach the All England Club final since Steffi Graf in 1999.

"She was playing well and I got a little tight in the second set. I was looking too far in the future. I was so close, but I can't do that. I was happy to get through that second set tie-break."

Williams, who won the first of her four Wimbledons 10 years ago, insisted that the destination of the 2012 crown is far from a foregone conclusion even though she is widely expected to overwhelm the slender Radwanska.

The Pole made the final with a 6-3, 6-4 win over German eighth seed Angelique Kerber.

"She's doing unbelievable. She's playing so great. Wow, she's going to get every ball back," said the American, whose serving prowess would not look out of place in the men's game.

Serena played two doubles matches on Wednesday with sister Venus, but showed no signs of fatigue against Azarenka, taking the first set courtesy of eight aces and 20 winners, while allowing her opponent just four points on serve.

That was the first set dropped by the 22-year-old Belarusian at the tournament.

Buoyed by a 7-1 winning record against the Australian Open champion, who could have retaken the world number one spot had she won, Williams broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set, secured with a sweeping forehand service return.

Azarenka hit back to level at 3-3 and then saved a match point in the tiebreak.

But the record 24th ace, blitzed right down the middle, gave Williams a deserved win.


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