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Serena Williams makes Olympic quarterfinals; sister Venus loses

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 | 10:09 a.m. CDT; updated 2:28 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Serena Williams of the United States celebrates her victory over Vera Zvonareva of Russia at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Wednesday.

WIMBLEDON, England — Three times on a single point, Serena Williams hit a serve that clipped the net cord before plopping into the service box for a let, a sequence that drew giggles from the Centre Court crowd.

Otherwise there was no way to slow Williams on Wednesday. She hit 12 aces and repeatedly rocketed her groundstrokes past No. 13-seeded Vera Zvonareva to win 6-1, 6-0 and reach the Olympic quarterfinals.

Swinging lustily with almost every shot, the No. 4-seeded Williams hit 32 winners to three for the Russian, who also lost when they met in the 2010 Wimbledon final. Williams swept the final 10 games and was done in only 51 minutes.

"I was just playing unbelievable," Williams said. "I was nervous going into the match and I didn't speak to anyone and I had a bad practice. I had no idea I would play like this."

Later in the day, Venus Williams squandered a lead in each set and lost her third-round match at the Olympics to No. 7-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).

Venus Williams, seeking a record fourth gold medal in Olympic tennis, still has a shot in doubles with her sister Serena. They had a quarterfinal match scheduled later Wednesday at Wimbledon.

In the first set, Williams failed to convert three set points, then blew a 5-1 lead in the tiebreaker. She was up 3-1 in the second set, but Kerber again charged back.

Kerber, a semifinalist at Wimbledon last month and at the U.S. Open last year, advanced to the quarterfinals against top-seeded Victoria Azarenka.

Roger Federer endured two rain delays and a shaky moment late in the first set to reach the quarterfinals by beating Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 7-5, 6-3.

Serving at 5-all in the first set, the No. 1-seeded Federer faced three break points and erased them all. He then broke and was in control from there.

A fourth-time Olympian, Federer has yet to win a career singles medal, although he and Swiss teammate Stanislas Wawrinka did win the gold in doubles in 2008. Federer's playing his first tournament since winning a record-tying seventh Wimbledon title.

While play was interrupted by rain on other courts, Serena Williams worked under Wimbledon's roof, and the conditions clearly suited her. She whacked winners even from behind the baseline, and more than once spun on one foot after smacking a shot, mixing a little body English with plenty of brute force.

Serena Williams hit a Wimbledon record 102 aces en route to her fifth title at the All England Club last month, and the shot remains a dominant force, especially on grass. She hit three consecutive aces against Zvonareva and lost only seven points in six service games.

In the second set, the crowd tried to coax a comeback from the Russian. But when she began tossing her racket in frustration, cheers for her turned to jeers.

And fans applauded Williams' domination.

"We love you, Serena," a spectator near the top of the stadium shouted during the final changeover. Serena Williams continued to stare sternly, but she wore a grin moments later as she walked off the court in triumph, waving to the stands dotted with U.S. flags.

Williams has lost only 10 games through three rounds. The third-time Olympian is the winner of two gold medals in doubles and 14 major titles, but she has yet to win a singles medal.


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