Venus warns Sharapova she’s back to her best

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Former double Wimbledon champion Venus Williams attempts to dethrone centre court queen Sharapova insisting she’s in the best form of her career…

The American, seeded 14 this year, was champion in 2000 and 2001, but her progress was hampered two years ago by a stomach injury as well as a decision to cut down on the number of tournaments.

She arrived at Wimbledon having played just eight events all year and with her ranking at 16, a career low.

But the 24-year-old has defied to odds to make the semi-finals here in impressive style, not having dropped a set.

"I’m at my healthiest now since I last won Wimbledon," said Williams who will take on defending champion Sharapova for a place in Saturday’s final.

"For sure, or else I wouldn’t have played the mixed doubles here. I couldn’t have played any doubles at the Australian at all.

"It’s really hard on my stomach. I can’t serve that much. Even now I’m monitoring how much I do. I can’t play too many matches or else I kind of break down."

Venus has collected four Grand Slam titles in her time but the last was the US Open in 2001.

She was a second round loser at Wimbledon last year and when she was beaten by Silvia Farina Elia in Dubai in March, it was her first loss in a first round clash in four years.

Her third round defeat at the hands of 15-year-old Bulgarian Sesil Karatantcheva at the French Open was her worst Roland Garros performance since 1998 and her ungracious reaction to it left many doubting if the former world number one would ever recover.

But now she insists her healthy condition has given her a new fire for competition.

"I think condition is extremely important because the last thing you need out there in a match is to have to choose which ball you’re going to run for because you’re tired and can’t concentrate on the point because you can’t breathe, or your legs burn.

"That is no way to be.

"The stomach injury is fine, but I can’t play a lot. I can’t play two and three matches or like so many matches in a row. It’s kind of tough for me."