AP Sports Writer
POSTED: 07:11 a.m. HST, Jul 05, 2012
WIMBLEDON, England >> Serena Williams had an ace up her sleeve on Centre Court, and she used it a Wimbledon-record 24 times.
The 13-time Grand Slam champion reached her seventh Wimbledon final on Thursday, smacking 24 aces to beat Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-6 (6) in the semifinals.
The final point of the match was, fittingly enough, the record-breaking ace.
"I've been working so hard, and I really, I really wanted it," said Williams, a four-time Wimbledon champion who lost in the first round of the French Open. "I got a little tight in the second set. I couldn't relax. I was like, looking too far in the future and she came back. But I'm glad I was able to get through."
The previous Wimbledon record of 23 aces was also set by Williams, in a three-set victory over Zheng Jie in the third.
Williams controlled the play against Azarenka in the first set with her service game, winning 20 of the 24 points she started. She then went up an early break in the second set, but Azarenka responded to make it 3-3.
They held the rest of the way, and Williams picked up her final three aces in the tiebreaker.
Williams will face Agnieszka Radwanska in Saturday's final and attempt to tie her sister Venus by winning her fifth Wimbledon singles title. The third-seeded Pole beat Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4 in the other semifinal.
Radwanska can take over the No. 1 ranking if she beats Williams on Saturday. If not, Azarenka, who won the Australian Open, will take over the top spot from Maria Sharapova.