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Williams sisters to meet in semifinals at Wimbeldon

by Stephen Wilson

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WIMBLEDON, England -- Venus and Serena Williams won Fourth of July matches Tuesday to set up a historic all-sister semifinal at Wimbledon.

Eighth-seeded Serena led off with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Lisa Raymond in only 41 minutes on Court 1.

Serena then raced over to Centre Court to watch fifth-seeded Venus record a pulsating 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over top-seeded Martina Hingis in 2 hours, 13 minutes.

The sisters have played each other four times, with Venus leading 3-1. Thursday's match will be the first Grand Slam semifinal between sisters.

"It's exciting," 20-year-old Venus said. "We're extremely proud, extremely dangerous. She knows everything I know."

Said 18-year-old Serena: "One Williams will definitely be in the final for the first time."

Getting this far at a Grand Slam is what both sisters were trained to do.

"We always believed that," Venus said. "Our parents told us that it would happen. It's how we visualized it. Since the beginning, they always taught us to be the best."

The other semifinal will pit defending champion Lindsay Davenport against unseeded 17-year-old Australian Jelena Dokic.

The second-seeded Davenport rallied to defeat No. 6 Monica Seles 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-0. Davenport double faulted on set point in the tiebreaker, but began putting pressure on Seles' serve in the second set.

Seles saved eight break points in the sixth game, but Davenport finally converted two games later -- on her 14th break point of the match.

Seles broke back for 5-4, but ran out of steam as Davenport won seven straight games to finish the match.

Dokic beat Magui Serna of Spain 6-3, 6-2 in 66 minutes. Last year, Dokic ousted Hingis in the first round and reached the quarterfinals. She had struggled since then.

"I've gotten my form back," Dokic said. "To come back here and do even better than what I did last year is unbelievable."

While Williams-Raymond was a mismatch, the Williams-Hingis showdown produced spectacular tennis from both players.

The match featured the all-court finesse of Hingis against the ferocious hitting of Williams. While many points ended quickly with flashing winners, other rallies lasted more than 20 shots.

"She was probably a little more hungry," Hingis said. "We both wanted to win very much, but she was a just a bit better today."

The match ended with Williams pounding an ace, her eighth of the day. She let out a shriek, bounded to the net and leaped high into the air with her left arm extended.

Williams went to the side of the court to grasp a large American flag unfurled by fans near the front row.

With a towel draped over her shoulders, she mouthed "Unbelievable" as she soaked in a standing ovation.

In the guest box, Serena beamed and clenched her fists, while father Richard Williams doffed his cap and bounced up and down.

"It feels phenomenal," Richard Williams said.

The elder Williams said he would bet $75 on each of his daughters, but would not watch Thursday's match. He plans to attend a funeral instead.

"I don't want to watch Venus beat up on Serena or Serena beat up on Venus," he said.

Serena Williams had no trouble in recording her fifth consecutive straight-sets victory.

She overwhelmed Raymond, serving nine aces and hitting a series of winners off her serve return. Raymond persisted with a serve-and-volley tactic, only for Williams to respond with bullet returns that left the crowd gasping in awe.

After closing the match with a short backhand winner, Serena waved and blew kisses to the crowd, did a pirouette and shouted, "Yeah!"

The men's quarterfinals are scheduled for today.

Top-seeded Pete Sampras, chasing his seventh Wimbledon title and record 13th Grand Slam championship, meets unseeded Jan-Michael Gambill; No. 2 Andre Agassi faces No. 10 Mark Philippoussis; No. 12 Patrick Rafter plays unseeded Alexander Popp; and Byron Black opposes qualifier Vladimir Voltchkov.

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