LONDON – All these years later, Wimbledon still brings out the best in Venus Williams.
With her latest display of gutsy serving and big hitting, the 10th-seeded Williams beat sixth-seeded Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2 on Thursday to reach her ninth title match at the All England Club and first since 2009.
At 37, Williams is the oldest Wimbledon finalist since Martina Navratilova was the 1994 runner-up at that age.
Williams also stopped Konta's bid to become the first woman from Britain in 40 years to win the country's Grand Slam tournament.
"I couldn't have asked for more, but I'll ask for a little more. One more win would be amazing," Williams said. "It won't be a given, but I'm going to give it my all."
She will be seeking her sixth Wimbledon championship and eighth Grand Slam singles trophy overall. Her most recent came in 2008, when she defeated her younger sister, Serena, for the title at the All England Club. A year later, she lost the final to Serena.
In the time since, Williams revealed that she was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, which can sap energy and cause joint pain. As time went on, there were questions about whether she might retire, especially after a half-dozen first-round losses at major tournaments. But she kept on going, and lately has returned to winning.
Her resurgence began in earnest at Wimbledon a year ago, when she made it to the semifinals. Then, at the Australian Open in January, Williams reached the final, where she lost to — you guessed it — her sister. Serena is off the tour for the rest of this year because she is pregnant.
"I missed her so much before this match. And I was like, 'I just wish she was here.' And I was like, 'I wish she could do this for me,' " Williams said with a laugh. "And I was like, 'No, this time you have to do it for yourself.' So here we are."
On Saturday, Williams will participate in the 16th Grand Slam final of her career, this time against 14th-seeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
Muguruza, the 2015 Wimbledon runner-up and 2016 French Open champion, overwhelmed 87th-ranked Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-1 in the other semifinal. She has lost only one set in the tournament.
While Muguruza hit freely and moved with a fluid ease, Rybarikova's performance was disappointing on its own. She had won 18 of her past 19 matches on grass, but on the biggest stage of her career she was overwhelmed by nerves, frustration and a merciless opponent.
"Not my best day," Rybarikova said. "But she didn't give me much chance to do something."