LONDON — We’re down to the final four women at Wimbledon. There could still be a Williams name on the trophy, despite Serena’s absence from SW19: Her sister, five-time champion Venus, has rolled back the years to set up a semifinal clash with home favorite Johanna Konta, who is aiming to end Great Britain’s 40-year wait for a female champion.
In the other semi, 2015 finalist Garbine Muguruza faces the only remaining unseeded player across both draws, Magdalena Rybarikova. Muguruza seems to have put the failure to defend her French Open crown behind her, but Slovakia’s Rybarikova has seen her game go from strength to strength on grass.
Who will make the final?
No. 10 Venus Williams vs. No. 6 Johanna Konta (Konta leads series 3-2)
Key points for Konta: The British 6-seed has been in excellent form on a surface that, arguably, isn’t her strongest — prior to this run, Konta had won only one singles match at Wimbledon.
Against Simona Halep in the quarterfinals, the 26-year-old Konta produced a battling performance to fight back from the brink. Romanian Halep was just two points from victory in the second-set tiebreaker, which would have guaranteed her status as the new world No. 1. Konta’s power from the baseline could draw Venus into an uncomfortable fight — Williams preys on denying her opponent rhythm — but the question remains as to how much successive three-setters against Caroline Garcia and Halep may have taken out of Konta.
Prediction: A tough one to call. If Konta allows Williams to dictate with her serve, the Briton could be in trouble. Konta has beaten Williams at a Grand Slam before (in straight sets at the 2016 Australian Open) and will take confidence from that, but Williams won last time out in Rome earlier this year. Expect this to go the distance. Konta in three.
No. 14 Garbine Muguruza vs. Magdalena Rybarikova (series tied 2-2)
Key points for Muguruza: While everyone is talking about Rybarikova being the surprise package, remember this: Since Muguruza’s French Open victory last year, the Spaniard has not won another tournament or even reached a final. However, the 2015 Wimbledon finalist remains a danger here, having knocked out world No. 1 Angelique Kerber in the fourth round before an impressive straight-sets win over Svetlana Kuznetsova in Tuesday’s quarterfinal. The 23-year-old Muguruza is notoriously difficult to break, too. In three of her five matches at this year’s Championships, she has not dropped serve. A new coach — compatriot Conchita Martinez, Spain’s only female Wimbledon singles winner — has seemingly given Muguruza a new lease of life.
Key points for Rybarikova: The 28-year-old Slovakian is enjoying the best Grand Slam run of her career. In 35 previous Slams, the current world No. 87 had never reached the last 16, but a quarterfinal victory over CoCo Vandeweghe on Tuesday made Rybarikova the lowest-ranked semifinalist at a major since Kerber at the 2011 US Open. In eight of Rybarikova’s nine previous Wimbledon main draw appearances, she was beaten in the first round, but don’t let that fool you. She is a cool customer on grass — her favored surface — and saw off new world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova earlier in the tournament. Rybarikova was victorious when she played Muguruza on grass in Birmingham two years ago.
Prediction: Rybarikova’s run has been impressive, but Muguruza’s experience of winning a major and reaching the final here should see her through. Muguruza in two.