Sharapova and Serena Williams reach Olympic semifinals

    Maria Sharapova beat Kim Clijsters to reach the semifinals of the women's singles at the London 2012 Olympics.

    Story highlights

    • Maria Sharapova to play fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko in semifinals at Olympics
    • Sharapova beats Kim Clijsters while her compatriot upsets sixth seed Petra Kvitova
    • The other semifinal will be between world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams
    • Williams and Kirilenko both also made it through to the women's doubles semifinals
    Russia provided both women's singles finalists at the 2008 Olympic tennis competition, but only one will make it through to the title match at London 2012.
    Maria Sharapova set up a semifinal showdown with compatriot Maria Kirilenko after overcoming fellow former world No. 1 Kim Clijsters on Thursday.
    The French Open champion triumphed 6-2 7-5 to end the Belgian's hopes of a first major championship on the hallowed grass of Wimbledon before she retires for a second time at the end of this year.
    "It's a nice experience every time you go out on Centre Court so I'm happy to say that my last match at Wimbledon was on Centre Court," the 29-year-old Clijsters said.
    Sharapova completed her collection of grand slam titles by winning the French Open in June, and Russia's first female flag bearer now has the chance to secure a "Golden Slam."
    "I was just really happy that I was able to step up in terms of the way that I played compared to previous matches," she said.
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    Defending Olympic gold
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    Venus Williams excited by London 2012
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    Kirilenko, seeded 14th, upset last year's Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 to reach the last four of a top event for the first time in her career.
    The 25-year-old -- a Wimbledon quarterfinalist last month -- also has a chance to earn a podium place in the women's doubles, reaching the semifinals with Nadia Petrova. The Russians beat China's Peng Shuai and Zheng Jie (7-5 6-7(7-9) 6-4.
    Serena Williams can also win double gold, which her older sister Venus achieved at Sydney 2000, as she seeks the only major title to elude her so far.
    The American faces a rematch of her Wimbledon semifinal against world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka after overpowering eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-0 6-3.
    "I love playing Victoria," said the 14-time grand slam singles winner, who holds an 8-1 career advantage over the Belorussian.
    "I have nothing to lose. She is world No.1. That's what I love, playing when there's no pressure. It will be fun."
    Azarenka beat Venus' conqueror Angelique Kerber, battling to a 6-4 7-5 win over the German seventh seed -- whose 48 match wins this year is the most on the WTA Tour.
    "We had the longest rallies. At one point I just couldn't believe when it was going to be over during the point," Azarenka said.
    Defending champions Serena and Venus are also through to the women's doubles semifinals, where they will face Kirilenko and Petrova following Thursday's 6-1 6-1 romp against Italian second seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.
    The Americans beat the Russians on the way to winning the Wimbledon title for the fifth time.
    The other semifinal will be between top-ranked Americans Liezl Huber and Lisa Raymond and Czech fourth seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, the runners-up at Wimbledon.