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Sunday 11 December 2016

Muguruza out to stop serena slam

Williams' final opponent beat her in last year's French Open

Serena Williams is just one win away from another Grand Slam milestone.

The top-ranked Williams maintained her 11-year dominance over Maria Sharapova, beating the Russian 6-2, 6-4 to reach her eighth Wimbledon championship match and 25th career Grand Slam final.

In beating Sharapova for the 17th straight time, the five-time Wimbledon champion won her 26th consecutive Grand Slam match and is now going for a fourth straight major title - a "Serena Slam" - and the third-leg of a calendar-year Grand Slam.

"At least I made it to a final of four," Williams said. "That's pretty good. That's pretty good."

Williams served 13 aces, including three in the final game, had 29 winners and never faced a break point in overpowering the fourth-seeded Sharapova, who hit six double-faults and couldn't find a way to cope with her rival's relentless pace.

"When she stepped up her game, I was able to step up mine as well," Williams said.

It will be Williams' first appearance in the Wimbledon final since 2012, when she won the last of her titles.

"I think it definitely gets better," she said. "It's been a long time since I've been in the final here. I just feel really good just to be in another final, so it's really cool."

Williams' opponent will be 21-year-old Garbine Muguruza, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the first semi-final. She's the first Spanish woman to advance to the Wimbledon final since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in 1996.

Williams has won two out her three matches against Muguruza, but the Spaniard beat her 6-2, 6-2 in the second round of the French Open l ast year. That was Williams' most lopsided loss in a Grand Slam.

"It's great for her. It's great for me," Williams said. "She actually beat me before. She made me improve, so she has me on my toes. I'll be fighting a lot."

Williams is unbeaten in majors since winning last year's US Open and this year's Australian and French Opens.

A win here would match the "Serena Slam" she achieved in 2002-03. Williams would then need to win the US Open to complete a true Grand Slam, a sweep of all four majors in the same year, something which hasn't been accomplished since Steffi Graf did it in 1988.

Williams is also one win away from a 21st Grand Slam title, one short of the Open era record held by Graf.

She also extended her career record against Sharapova to 18-2. Sharapova beat Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final for her first Grand Slam title, but the rivalry has been one-sided for more than a decade.

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