Serena Williams won her 14th straight match at the Family Circle. The top-ranked woman will play for her second straight title in this tournament Sunday against Jelena Jankovic. Jankovic, the 2007 champion, defeated Stefanie Voegele, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-2 in the other semifinal.
This was the first time since 2009 the Williams sisters were playing each other in a tournament. Serena has won five straight in their series and leads 14-10. Serena was encouraged to see her older sister reach the semifinals after her struggles the past 18 months in dealing with an autoimmune disease.
"We've definitely been through a lot since our last match. But, yeah, we all come together at the end and we just try to love each other like we always do," Serena said.
Serena surged to a 4-0 lead and won the first set in 22 minutes. Venus, who withdrew from her previous event because of back problems, picked up her game a bit in the second set but it was hardly enough.
The match ended when Venus misplayed Serena's final serve. The sisters shook hands at the net, neither looking overly pleased. Serena waited until her sister left the court to cheers. This victory by Serena surpassed her 6-2, 6-2 win over Venus at Miami in 2002.
The matchup drew a single-session record of 9,538 to the stadium, exceeding the previous high in 2008 who watched Serena Williams defeat Maria Sharapova in that year's quarterfinals.
The Williams sisters came off a long, grueling Friday when both had to win twice to get this far. Serena suggested that perhaps the full day of matches — three in less than 24 hours — took a toll on Venus.
"I mean she'll never admit it, ever, but I don't think she was 100 percent," Serena said. "But you will never get that out of her, and quite frankly, three matches for her is much tougher than three matches for me."
Still, Venus Williams was smiling when she walked into the packed stadium court for warmups. She jumped on Serena's first serve immediately to win the first point — and it was largely downhill after that.
Serena's powerhouse serves and accurate groundstrokes rarely gave Venus room to move. Serena regularly delivered serves in excess of 100 mph that Venus couldn't handle.
Serena won the final game of the first set at love, and Venus looked out of options. When Venus did have a chance to tighten things in the second set, Serena made sure it didn't happen.
Venus won two points on Serena's serve trailing 3-2 in the second set. Serena won the next two points with serves of 107 mph and 108 mph. She followed with an ace off a 117 mph serve that Venus looked at before changing sides. Serena quickly ended the game a point later to regain control.
Still, Venus was happy with her week, if not how she played against Serena.
"You know, I've been off balance for a long time," she said. "And I'm trying to regain my balance."
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