LONDON - Defending champion Venus Williams closed in on a sixth Wimbledon title yesterday with a 6-16-2 victory over Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, whose quarterfinal challenge melted in the searing heat.
Venus, bidding to become the first woman to win a hat trick of Wimbledon titles since Steffi Graf's three in a row from 1991 to 1993, next faces either top seed Dinara Safina or Germany's Sabine Lisicki for a place in the final.
The 29-year-old American, seeded three, has now won 32 consecutive sets at the All England Club since Japan's Akiko Morigami took the second set of their third-round match in 2007.
She breezed through the first set in 27 minutes, serving up two love games on her way to a 5-0 lead before the 11th-seeded Radwanska got on the board. The Polish girl broke to love to lead 2-0 in the second set but that was as good as it got for the slender 20-year-old who had no answer to the American's brutal hitting power.
Venus ran away with the next six games to claim victory after 68 minutes.
"I really had to play well. It was close at the start of the second set. She's a good grass-court player so I'm happy just to get through," said the American, who has now reached her eighth semifinal in 10 years. "If it was an all-Williams final that would be fantastic but we still have great players to meet and will have to bring our best tennis to the court."
Later yesterday, two-time champion Serena Williams, the second seed, was set to take on Belarusian eighth seed Victoria Azarenka, who is aiming to reach her first grand slam semifinal.
The last quarterfinal featured Italian Francesca Schiavone, bidding to reach her first semifinal in a major, against fourth-seeded Russian Elena Dementieva, who made the last four here last year. - Sapa-AFP