Wimbledon 2017: Venus Williams reaches ninth final

    Story highlights

    • Venus Williams prevailed 6-4 6-2
    • Second grand slam final of the season
    • Garbine Muguruza crushed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1 6-1 in other semi
    • Men's semifinals Friday featuring Roger Federer

    Wimbledon (CNN)Venus Williams' appearance in January's Australian Open final wasn't, as it turned out, a temporary return to the head table of grand slam tennis for the 37-year-old.

    Rather it turned out to be a sign of things to come, with Wimbledon providing more success.
      The US star reached a second grand slam final this year and simultaneously ended the chances of a first British women's winner at Wimbledon since 1977 when she dispatched Johanna Konta -- who grew up idolizing the tennis playing Williams sisters -- 6-4 6-2 in a fine display of powerful, athletic tennis at The All England Club.
      "I've played some good tennis in different points of my life," Williams said in somewhat of an understatement. "I think it's wonderful to have the opportunity to play well and to be strong and have experience.
      "So I think experience can either work against you or for you. I like to think it's working for me."
      It surely has so far this Wimbledon, with Williams beating three players who were born in 1997 -- the year she made her debut in southwest London.
      Konta's exit ended a not so great couple of days for the locals, who saw hobbled, defending men's champion Andy Murray from Britain bundled out by Williams' fellow American Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals.
      If Williams defeats Garbine Muguruza on Saturday, the world No. 11 would become the oldest women's grand slam winner in the Open Era, surpassing younger sister Serena who got the better of Venus in Melbourne.
      Muguruza certainly shouldn't be discounted, even if Williams might be relieved not to be confronting her sibling, who is pregnant and off the tour. She has lost eight grand slam finals -- seven of them to the record 23-time grand slam champion.

      'I miss her so much'

      Yet for Williams, they've always been sisters first, competitors second.
      "I miss her so much," she said. "Even more yesterday and today. I try to take the same courage on the court that she would have. I did think of that. I tried to do the things she would do.
      "I don't know that I play exactly the same way she does. But I really tried to be inspired by it."
      Williams leads Muguruza 3-1 head-to-head but lost their last tussle, this year in Rome. But that tournament is played on clay, not grass, as Muguruza knows.
      "She knows how to play, especially Wimbledon finals," Muguruza, ranked 15th, said of Williams. "It's going to be, you know, like a historic final again."
      The Spaniard has looked a different player since exiting the French Open -- when she admitted to struggling with the pressure of defending the title -- and crushed the unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1 6-1 in the first semifinal on Centre Court.
      She is temporarily working with a Wimbledon champion and Spain's Fed Cup captain, Conchita Martinez.
      It was Serena who beat Muguruza in the 2015 finale at SW19.

      Sustained excellence

      But Thursday belonged to Williams, whose sustained excellence and longevity at Wimbledon are spelled out by these numbers: A ninth final, 87 match wins -- one more than Serena -- and 101 total matches.
      Capping this fortnight for her in perfect fashion -- a fortnight that began with questions about a car accident she was involved in that led to the death of a 78-year-old man in Florida -- would be a sixth crown and first grand slam since her 2008 triumph here.
      Williams caressed a forehand winner down the line on a third match point to seal victory over Konta and celebrated in understated fashion. You couldn't take the smile off her face, though there was no pirouette like when she downed CoCo Vandeweghe in the Melbourne semifinals.
      Williams and seventh-ranked Konta possess similar styles.
      They are both tall, power players with big serves who also cover the court with aplomb. Konta actually led their head-to-heads 3-2, including a victory over Williams at the tournament closest to her home, the Miami Open, in March.
      But on Thursday, Konta was put under relentless pressure by Williams as the British player made 35 forced errors, with Venus also powering home 19 winners and hitting only nine unforced errors.

      Pivotal

      There was little to separate them on the grass -- a controversial issue this tournament -- in the first set. A pivotal two games, however, decided the set and probably the entire outcome.
      Down two break points at 4-4, Williams produced a serve out wide, backhand winner combination. On the second, an excellent 106-mile-per-hour second serve into the body gave Konta no chance.
      "Her being able to do that is why she is a five-time champion here, and why she is the champion that she is," said Konta.
      It wouldn't be the last time Williams came up with that serve, Konta turning away when a similar serve followed in the second set.
      Konta then felt the pressure serving at 4-5 in the opener, falling behind quickly 0-40, and couldn't save the game.
      Williams had the important advantage and pressed it home for 3-1 in the second. Konta went from 0-40 to 30-40 on serve but was broken on the third break point.
      Konta, who courageously produced gripping three-set wins over Donna Vekic, Caroline Garcia and Simona Halep, just couldn't mount a comeback, though she left the court to a standing ovation, rightfully so.
      But it was Williams who left as the winner on the day.
      "I would sum up my whole Wimbledon experience as memorable," said Konta. "It was very special to be playing all my matches on such great courts with such massive support.
      "In terms of the final, well, I think the two best women of the Championships this year are playing."