Venus Williams in finals

WIMBLEDON, England &

Defending champion Venus Williams beat Elena Dementieva 6-1, 7-6 (3) to advance to the Wimbledon final today, setting up a potential championship matchup with sister Serena.

Venus Williams, a four-time Wimbledon winner, overpowered the fifth-seeded Russian in the first set and then prevailed in an error-filled tiebreaker to improve her record to 7-0 in semifinals at the All England Club.

Her opponent in Saturday's final could be two-time champion Serena, who was next up on Centre Court to face 133rd-ranked Chinese wild-card entrant Zheng Jie. Their match was suspended by rain with Serena leading 5-2.

It would be the first all-Williams final since 2003 when Serena beat Venus in the championship match for the second year in a row.

"I am dying for S. Williams to get through," said Venus, who hasn't dropped a set in five matches and will be going for her seventh Grand Slam title. "This is my seventh final here and I'm looking forward to playing Serena in our third final, and I'm going to be rooting her on.

"At this point, our main focus is obviously both of us getting to the final," she said. "Then from there it's every Williams for themself."

Dementieva, playing in her first Wimbledon semifinal, looked nervous and was completely overmatched in the first set by Williams' sheer power and pace, but settled down and made it competitive in the second.

After Dementieva knocked a forehand into the net to end the — hour, 42 minute match, Venus skipped and hopped up and down with joy like a kid at a birthday party.

"I guess it started to set in a little bit about being in the final," she said. "When I'm excited I always jump. That I guess will never change. I'd like to celebrate even more if I'm good enough to take that title."

Asked about the likelihood of an all-Williams final, Dementieva said she couldn't imagine playing against a sibling.

"It's really hard," she said. "For sure it's going to be a family decision. They know their game very well. So maybe there is not so much fight in the end."

Venus took offense to a question about a predetermined outcome if Serena makes the final. Serena has an 8-7 career edge against Venus, including 5-1 in Grand Slam finals.

"I'm extremely professional in everything that I do on and off the court," Venus said. "I contribute my best in my sport and I also have a ton of respect for myself and my family. So any mention of that is extremely disrespectful for who I am, what I stand for, and my family."

Venus' attacking game produced 28 winners and 19 unforced errors. The more defensive Dementieva had 12 winners and 22 errors.

Venus, the biggest server in women's tennis, averaged 118 mph on first serves and had a fastest serve of 125 mph. Dementieva, known as one of the weakest servers in the game, averaged only 102 mph on first serves.

Dementieva was highly animated throughout the match, shrieking at the top of her voice and spinning around in frustration after errors.

Venus broke immediately to open the match, saved four break points in the next game and moved to a 4-0 lead before Dementieva finally got on the board after 29 minutes of play. The Russian saved four break points in a game that went to deuce six times, but Venus quickly closed out the set, flying high for a putaway forehand volley smash.

Venus continued a run of four straight games and seemed ready to pull away. But Dementieva raised her level, broke for 2-1 on a forehand net cord and stayed even until 6-6.

Dementieva faded badly in the tiebreaker, however. After a service winner from Venus on the first point, all the next nine points ended in errors. Leading 3-2, Dementieva reeled off three straight forehand errors, a backhand mistake and then another forehand error on match point.

The men's semifinals are set for Friday as five-time champion Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal head to a probable third straight Wimbledon championship showdown.

Federer will face a resurgent Marat Safin, a former No. — and two-time Grand Slam champion who used to detest playing at Wimbledon and is down at No. 75 in the ATP rankings. He's the first Russian man to reach the Wimbledon final four in the 40-year history of the Open era.

Nadal will play either 94th-ranked Rainer Schuettler or No. 145 Arnaud Clement, who were resuming their quarterfinal Thursday at one set apiece. Schuettler won the first 6-3 and Clement took the second 7-5 when play was suspended due to fading light Wednesday on Court 1.

Federer has reached the semifinals for the 17th consecutive time at a Grand Slam event, and is two wins away from becoming the second man in history to lift the Wimbledon trophy six years in a row. He hasn't dropped a set, taking his winning streak at Wimbledon to 39 matches and 64 overall on grass.

"I'll have a chance to win this tournament for the next five or 10 years, you know," the 26-year-old Swiss star said Wednesday. "I think my game's made for grass. My dream is to not only win this year, but many more years to come."

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