London - Venus Williams is ready to roll back the years as
the American star eyes a place in the Wimbledon semi-finals, while British
contender Johanna Konta faces a grudge match against Simona Halep on Tuesday.
It is eight years since Williams last reached the Wimbledon
final, but the 37-year-old showed she is still a formidable force on grass by
thrashing Ana Konjuh in the fourth round.
Williams' quarter-final opponent - Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko
- was just 11 when Venus won the last of her five Wimbledon titles in 2008.
The 20-year-old idolised Venus's sister Serena Williams, the
reigning champion who is absent while she prepares to have her first child, and
has modelled her go-for-broke game after the American legend.
Having stunned the tennis world by becoming the first
unseeded player to win the French Open, Ostapenko is brim full of confidence.
Williams, this year's Australian Open runner-up, is the
oldest Wimbledon quarter-finalist for 23 years and she knows she'll have to
summon the kind of dominant display that made her so deadly a decade ago.
"She had an amazing moment in Paris. She's riding on that
momentum," Williams said of Ostapenko.
"I'm playing pretty solid. I'd like to win every round
in straight sets. If not, all that matters is you win.
"Winning never gets old at any stage in your career,
Serena, in 2002 and 2015, is the last player to win the
French Open and Wimbledon back to back, with Ostapenko not yet looking that far
"The first couple of matches here were tough. I wasn't
playing my best. But I still won. I was fighting. That's the key for getting
your confidence and playing better with every match," she said.
British star Konta and Romanian world number two Halep clash
in what promises to be a heated affair with so much at stake for both players.
Halep can replace Angelique Kerber on top of the world
rankings with a win, while Konta is looking to move a step closer to becoming
the first woman to win Wimbledon since Virginia Wade in 1977.
As if that wasn't enough to fuel emotions on Centre Court, the
pair were involved in a spiteful Fed Cup clash between their countries in
Konta was reduced to tears by what she felt were threats and
intimidation from the Romanian fans in Constanta during her match against
Romania coach Ilie Nastase was sent from the court after
calling Konta and his British counterpart Anne Keothavong "bitches"
and was later banned from the stadium following a foul-mouthed rant at a
Halep didn't exactly soothe Konta's wounds ahead of their
last eight clash, saying: "In my opinion, the public was very fair".
Konta couldn't hide her frustration went told of Halep's
"They were not in my shoes. They were not being
verbally threatened. I think it's very difficult for them to understand my
position," she said.
Beaten in the 2015 final by Serena, Spain's Garbine Muguruza
admits she and many of her title rivals know they have a golden opportunity to
lift the Venus Rosewater Dish while the 23-time major winner is away.
Muguruza, who faces Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova, said:
"I think so, because she's always in the final.
"Of course, it's a big change. More players have the
chance to get to the final."
Kuznetsova, a former French and US Open champion, is in her
first Wimbledon quarter-final for 10 years as the 32-year-old tries to silence
the doubters by reaching the last four for the first time.
"Coming to Wimbledon, I didn't have any press attention
before the tournament. I'm, like, why don't I have? And then I was, like, okay
I had too much of it in French Open, too much pressure," Kuznetsova said.
"I feel more free. It actually helped me and I don't
care if people don't believe. It's their choice."
Inspired by her coach Pat Cash's celebrations of the 30th
anniversary of his Wimbledon title, American 24th seed Coco Vandeweghe is
targeting her first Wimbledon semi-final.
Vandeweghe faces Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova, who has a
17-1 record on grass this season.
"I know Pat was celebrating with his team. With the
30-year anniversary, this tournament has been very special for him,"