Melbourne - An irrepressible Serena Williams kept her record-breaking
Grand Slam dream alive Wednesday by beating Johanna Konta to make the
Australian Open semi-final, where she will meet fellow veteran Mirjana
The American joined sister Venus in the last four after
stepping up a level to oust the dangerous Briton 6-2, 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena
and end her nine-match winning streak.
Her battling victory keeps intact a potential all-Williams
final, with Venus needing to get past fellow American Coco Vandeweghe in the
other semi-final to set-up the nostalgic showdown.
But first Serena must beat former teenage prodigy
Lucic-Baroni, who upset fifth seed Karolina Pliskova to continue her
heart-warming comeback after her career was derailed by personal issues.
"She played so well, she's definitely a future champion
here for sure," Williams said of ninth-seeded Konta. "I'm really
happy to get through that.
"I got a little frustrated, but I told myself, stop
complaining. Don't be 'Baby-rena'. I admit I complain a lot. That's my thing. I
try to just have fun, and try to enjoy the moment out here."
The victory over Konta, who had been in impeccable touch
heading into the match, marked an incredible 10th successive Grand Slam
semi-final for Williams, and her 34th overall, reinforcing the 35-year-old's
She has refused to talk about the possibility of finally
surpassing Steffi Graf to win a 23rd Grand Slam and take sole ownership of the
But Williams now has a real chance of doing so to further
cement her place as perhaps the greatest player of all time.
If she achieves the goal of winning a seventh Australian
Open, it will also propel her back to world number one, after Angelique Kerber snatched
the accolade from her last year.
In the first meeting between the pair, Konta showed intent
by winning the opening point but Williams settled to hold serve, before the
Briton served to love.
Williams was struggling with her first serve, with just one
in three finding their mark in the opening encounters and she had to fend off a
break point in the third game, raising her arms in the air when she finally won
with an ace.
But it was Konta under pressure in the next game with Williams
unloading some powerful ground strokes, forcing a backhand error from the
Briton to go 3-1 in front.
Williams is known for her pounding forehand winners, but her
baseline weapon had been lacking its usual punch in Melbourne, until now.
She began hitting some ferocious shots that Konta struggled
to counter and the decorated American raced through the first set in 35
Before the match, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou said
Williams must start moving better around the court to counter Konta's lightning
fast game, and she seemed to have taken the advice to heart.
But her service game continued to cause problems with too
many first serves called out, handing Konta a chance on the second and she
broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set when Williams shunted a forehand wide.
But back-to-back aces on Williams' next service game helped
her confidence and she broke back to level the scores at 3-3.
Konta, 25, who made the semi-finals last year in a
breakthrough season, remained calm and collected but she could do nothing to
stop Williams as she moved up another gear to close out the match.