Venus dethrones Sharapova to reach final

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Former double champion Venus Williams dethroned Centre Court queen and defending champion Maria Sharapova to reach her fifth Wimbledon final…

The 25-year-old American, the winner in 2000 and 2001, will take on either top seeded compatriot Lindsay Davenport or Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo for the title on Saturday where she will be chasing a fifth Grand Slam win.

Davenport was leading Mauresmo 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/4), 5-3 when rain brought an interruption to their Court One clash.

"I have raised my game to get this far because I love this tournament," said Williams who revealed that sister Serena, who was beaten in the final by Sharapova in 2004, had passed on some pre-match tips to her.

"Serena sent me an e-mail telling me what to do, that I had to stay in the game and play my best. I took it to heart.

"It’s my fifth final. I have a good record here and everything is falling into place."

The semi-final between the 14th seeded Williams and the Russian second seed had been delayed by over four hours because of rain.

But when it did finally get underway it was worth the wait.

Both women unleashed an uncompromising display of brutal power hitting, the violence of which was matched by a rapid escalation of screams and squeals from both sides.

Williams grabbed the first break in the opening set to lead 4-2 and then held for 5-2.

But Sharapova battled back and matched the American shot for shot and scream for scream as the noise levels from both women rocketed with the intensity of the exchanges.

Williams bashed a vicious down-the-line forehand to carve out two set points in the ninth game.

The Russian though stayed in the set by saving both, the last of which was secured with a blistering cross-court forehand before she broke to go 4-5 when Williams hit long.

The two women the held on to reach the tiebreaker.

Two early errors from Sharapova handed the initiative to Williams who hit her way to four set points and the American clinched the opener after 62 minutes when the champion, forced from side to side, could only direct a backhand long.

The exertions of the first set seemed to take their toll on Sharapova who was broken immediately to love at the start of the second set and then wasted two break points to slip 2-0 down.

From that point, the 18-year-old’s spirit was sapped.

She was broken again to go 1-4 down and wasted two break points in the sixth game which lasted nine minutes.

As the skies darkened, Sharapova saved one match point in the seventh game but hit a tired, loose forehand wide of the mark to hand Williams the tie after 1hr 42min of intriguing action.