Venus targets Sharapova after snuffing out Pierce comeback

The biggest roar on a blustery Centre Court yesterday was born of relief. Mary Pierce had finally won a game against Venus Williams after 37 minutes of torture. Having gleaned only 11 points in the opening set and lost seven games in a row, the 30-year-old French competitor managed to hold serve.

To achieve that - from a seemingly comfortably position at 40-0 - Pierce had to save two break points and scrap through six deuces before converting her eighth game point, Williams hitting a forehand return long.

From this humble beginning, Pierce, the 12th seed, put her game together and treated the 14,000 spectators to a set. Not a match, but a set. One that climaxed with a thrilling tie-break, which Williams won, 12-10, to complete a 6-0, 7-6 victory.

The tie-break alone was worth waiting for. Pierce had five set points, netting the first when serving at 6-4, and missing a backhand serving at 9-8. Her three other opportunities were on Williams' serve. Pierce saved a match point at 7-6 down, but hit a backhand long on the second at 11-10 down.

So, Williams' renaissance continues apace. "It was a tough tie-break today," the elder of the American sisters said. "I was hitting a lot of good shots, but she was hitting shots from nowhere. It was a great win to pull that one out. She didn't give me an inch. She was playing unbelievable. I feel I deserve to be in the semi-final."

A measure of Williams' falling form of late is reflected in the fact that, despite being a double Wimbledon champion, she was seeded at 14 for this year's event. However, her new-found confidence incorporates a recognition that her game had deteriorated so far.

"I was OK with the seeding from the get-go," she said. "Whoever I go out on court against I feel there's a good chance that I'm going to win so long as I play well.

"I have definitely raised my game. Today was a good match for me, good preparation going into the semi-final."

After Pierce capitulated in straight sets to Justine Henin-Hardenne, of Belgium, in the French Open final less than a month ago, I asked her whether she thought her display had done anything to advance the WTA Tour's campaign for equal prize-money with the men.

Her answer was that the issue of equal prize-money was not only related to the finals of major tournaments, but to the women's overall contribution. That is perhaps just as well, considering the disappointing finale to the women's singles at the Australian Open in January, won by Serena Williams against Lindsay Davenport, and the recent French farce.

Wimbledon, in common with the French Open, holds the belief that the men deserve more pay because they are generally a bigger draw and play best-of-five-sets matches, whereas the women play best-of-three.

For this year's championships, however, the All England Club has moved closer than ever to equality. The total prize pot is £10,085,510, of which the winner of the women's singles will receive £600,000, only £30,000 less than the men's champion.

Prize-money for the women's singles has increased overall by 5.9 per cent, and the men's has increased by 4.6 per cent. The differential is caused by the women receiving an additional 2.5 per cent from the quarter-finals onwards.

Pierce has a point when she says that the value of the women's contribution to tournaments should not be judged simply on events on finals day. There have been some fine contests so far, such as the fourth-round match between Davenport and Kim Clijsters, though few have been as compelling as those in the men's singles. The hope is that the concluding two rounds of singles will showcase the women's game at its best.

After defeating Pierce for the seventh time in 10 matches - yesterday was their first duel on a grass court - Williams, the women's champion in 2001 and 2002, goes into a semi-final tomorrow against the defending champion, Maria Sharapova, who, 12 months ago, ended the two-year reign of the younger Williams sister, Serena.

Earlier on Centre Court, the third-seeded Amélie Mauresmo, of France, advanced to her third Wimbledon semi-final, defeating Anastasia Myskina, of Russia, the 2004 French Open champion, 6-3, 6-4.

Mauresmo faces the difficult task of competing against the powerful, big-serving Davenport for a place in Saturday's final. But at least Serena Williams is not around to deny Mauresmo this year, as she did, comfortably, in the 2002 semi-finals, and again last year, after Mauresmo had led by a set and a break.

Myskina, whose mother is seriously ill, did remarkably well to advance to the quarter-finals, but yesterday Mauresmo coped rather better in the windy conditions.

Both players are noted for splendid ground-strokes and fragile confidence, though Mauresmo is almost able to treat Wimbledon as a stroll in the park compared to her nerve-jangling experiences at the French Open.

After winning the opening set in only 30 minutes, with breaks in the fourth and eighth games, Mauresmo was made to work harder in the second set. She broke for 3-2, but Myskina broke back to make it 4-4.

That, however, was as far as the Russian's challenge stretched. Mauresmo broke for 5-4 and then went on to serve out to love after 69 minutes.

Women's semi-finals

* L Davenport (US) v A Mauresmo (Fr)

* V Williams (US) v M Sharapova (Rus)

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power