Serena bullies Sharapova and claims 17th straight win over 'rival'
Published 09/07/2015 | 17:44
Serena Williams extended tennis' most one-sided rivalry with her 17th consecutive victory over Maria Sharapova to reach her eighth Wimbledon final.
Australian and French Open champion Williams moved ever closer to the calendar grand slam by storming past Sharapova 6-2 6-4 - some 11 years after losing to her biggest foe in tennis in the final at SW19.
Coach Patrick Mouratoglou insisted in advance that Williams' dominance means there "is not really a rivalry" - and the world number one vindicated that claim to book a showdown with Spain's Garbine Muguruza.
The 20-time grand slam champion looked completely unflustered in storming to the first set 6-2 in little over half an hour.
The last time Sharapova beat Williams Britney Spears was still a pop princess, and three years away from shaving her head.
America had barely heard of Barack Obama and Tony Blair was still British prime minister.
Sharapova expected to dominate the tennis world after beating Williams twice in 2004, to both the Wimbledon crown and WTA Tour Championships title.
The Russian reckoned without Williams' incredible staying powers however, and also the fire fuelled by a long-running feud intensified by a fall-out over Grigor Dimitrov.
Two years ago Williams appeared to brand Dimitrov "the guy with the black heart" after their relationship broke down.
Sharapova responded in kind by questioning Williams' coupling-up with coach Patrick Mouratoglou, saying: "If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids".
Now Dimitrov dates Sharapova, and that triangle leaves precious little love between the Russian and the American.
But for Williams, any latent frustrations are surely exorcised by the total dominance of 16 consecutive victories against Sharapova.
The 33-year-old is still coached by Mouratoglou but rumoured to be paired up with rapper Drake, who has been on hand at Wimbledon this year as moral support.
Williams started her intimidation two days out from this semi-final, declaring "I love playing Maria".
And no wonder when Sharapova produced two double faults to gift the top seed an immediate break of serve in the match.
Williams pulled out two aces to hold serve, before breaking Sharapova again with ease and then seeing out the set.
Every time Sharapova fought to raise her level Williams stepped up another notch.
The Russian fourth seed improved in the second set but was still no match for the 33-year-old.
The American mustered just the single service break in the second set: it was more than enough.
Williams fired two aces and an unreturned serve to complete her victory, leaving Sharapova simply trailing in her wake.
Once the 20-time grand slam champion stops basking in the glow of blitzing the object of her long-term feud, she will set about claiming a sixth Wimbledon crown this Saturday.