(Reuters) – Five-times champion Venus Williams is drawing on the emotional support of her absent sister Serena at Wimbledon as the 37-year-old American remains on course to seize one of her sibling’s records should she go on to claim an eighth grand slam title.
Williams won a cross-generation battle when she beat 20-year-old French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 7-5 on Tuesday to reach her 10th semi-final in 20 attempts at the All England Club and next faces home favorite Johanna Konta.
The American stands two victories away a remarkable triumph and a win in Saturday’s final would allow her to replace Serena, who is taking a break from tennis to give birth to her first child, as the oldest women’s grand slam winner.
“They’re definitely here with me, for sure,” Williams told reporters on Tuesday. “Even if it’s not physically. That is one thing I do know. They’re fighting right alongside me.”
In a professional career lasting more than two decades, Williams is closing in on a 50th WTA title and credits her longevity to a love of the game and a desire to constantly improve.
“I love it,” Williams said. “I try really hard. There’s no other explanation. You do your best while you can. That’s what I’m doing.
“I love the challenge. I love pressure. It’s not always easy dealing with the pressure. There’s constant pressure. It’s only yourself who can have the answer for that.
“I love the last day you play, you’re still improving. It’s not something that is stagnant. The competition keeps you growing. You have to get better if you want to stay relevant.”
The veteran last triumphed at Wimbledon in 2008, which remains her seventh and final grand slam singles title.
(Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru)