Come on, Girls. Make a Name for Yourself, Demands Martina; Williams Whispers: Serena (Left) and Venus, in Semi-Final Singles Action Today, Make Sure They Are Not Overheard on the Way to a Doubles Win over Bethanie Mattek and Sania Mirza Yesterday Picture: REUTERS

Daily Mail (London), July 3, 2008 | Go to article overview

Come on, Girls. Make a Name for Yourself, Demands Martina; Williams Whispers: Serena (Left) and Venus, in Semi-Final Singles Action Today, Make Sure They Are Not Overheard on the Way to a Doubles Win over Bethanie Mattek and Sania Mirza Yesterday Picture: REUTERS


Byline: RICHARD COPEMAN

BONNIE TYLER belted out Holding out for a Hero in 1984the same year Martina Navratilova won a fifth Wimbledon title.

Fast forward 24 years or so to the women's singles semi-finals today, and thenine-time champion is echoing the Welsh singer's words and calling on thecurrent generation of stars to transform themselves from players into legendsjust as she did in her Eighties heyday.

'It is too even at the top and nobody has risen to the top,' insistedNavratilova. 'In the old days people were complaining that it was always Chris(Evert) and Martina in the finals but the bottom line was they wanted to seeChris and Martina in the finals.

'It is a changing of the guard. It is the first time ever we didn't have one ofthe top four seeds in the quarters. Nobody has stepped up to the plate. Maybethis will be the resurrection of Serena and Venus Williams. Maybe they will endup No 1 and No 2 at the end of the year.' Maybe indeed. Venus, after all,already has four Wimbledon singles crowns to her name, while Serena has two.

Looking at today's draw, the siblings start hot favourites to be facing eachother for a fourth time in the final on Saturdaynot that form has counted for much this fortnight, of course.

Williams the elder, the No 7 seed, lines up against Elena Dementieva of Russiawho, despite being the top ranked player remaining, at No 5, starts as theunderdog.

The Russian's reputation is not helped by what is commonly acknowledged as adodgy serve.

In a sport where statistics are plentiful, one in particular is damning.Dementieva has only hit six aces in six matches this fortnight, compared toWilliams' 30. The difference could be key.

Another psychological point goes to the American in the form of a 5-2head-to-head advantage.

Included in that was the final of the Sydney 2000 Olympics when gold clearlymeant so much to her..

A happy memory to recall if the going gets tough this afternoon.

Williams the younger, meanwhile, lines up against Jie Zheng, the Chinesedoubles specialist, wildcard wonder and new darling of SW19.

Zheng looks more and more like a woman on a mission. Or a double mission, ifyou add giving away her slice of her prize moneyonce her federation have taken their cutto the Szechuan earthquake victims, to her obvious desire to reach the final.

She was, as ever, politeness personified as she looked ahead to today, havingadded Nicole Vaidisova to a shock list of victims that includes No 1 seed AnaIvanovic in the third round.

'Serena is a two-times winner and a very prominent player on grass. I am in thesemi-finals for the first time,' she said. 'In 2004, I lost to her in the firstround when she was the defending champion.

I hope I do better this time.' Williams is clearly not taking the Chinese girllightly.

'I don't think it's luck she's doing so well, I think she's a really goodplayer,' insisted Serena. 'I'm definitely not going to underestimate her.'Having strictly limited her tour appearances in recent timesand with victories in the final on both occasions she has met her older sisterSerena will surely never get a better chance of making it a hat-trick of VenusRosewater plates.

And taking another giant step towards answering Navratilova's call. …

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Come on, Girls. Make a Name for Yourself, Demands Martina; Williams Whispers: Serena (Left) and Venus, in Semi-Final Singles Action Today, Make Sure They Are Not Overheard on the Way to a Doubles Win over Bethanie Mattek and Sania Mirza Yesterday Picture: REUTERS
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