Serena Williams ended what may have been big sister and “best friend in the world” Venus Williams’s last great chance for an eighth major title to keep her own calendar grand slam bid on track.
The younger Williams prevailed 6-4 6-3 in the siblings’ first Wimbledon meeting in six years to reach her 11th quarter-final at SW19.
Both are five-time Wimbledon champions, and they held nothing back on Centre Court, but Serena outslugged her 35-year-old sister to sustain the dream of that elusive calendar slam.
The 33-year-old 20-time major champion summoned top form to shrug off any pangs of guilt at extending her own bid for a sixth Wimbledon crown at her sister’s expense.
“It’s hard to go up against someone you root for all the time no matter what, who you love and is your best friend in the world,” said Serena.
“So it’s never easy, but you just play for the competition and enjoy the moment.
“I think I served well, I didn’t hit huge serves, I hit one big serve and other than that I think I was really consistent with my serve.
“She was playing really well, but in the end I was able to come through.”
Former Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport branded this the match everyone wants to see but cannot bear to watch in previewing the family battle of her fellow Americans.
Both sisters were able to suspend their inseparable bond long enough to throw everything at their respective bids for history however, creating an engaging and brutal contest.
Serena’s dominance was expected to be implicit – but her stubborn and committed big sister was anything but compliant.
Times were when accusations ran wild that domineering father Richard Williams would preordain the results of his daughters’ meetings.
No longer, not with the head of the clan not seen at SW19 since 2012, to coincide with Serena gaining a level of independence through taking up with coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
The 45-year-old has overseen seven of Serena’s 20 grand slam triumphs, further enhancing his already-burgeoning reputation.
Serena hailed Venus as the “pioneer” without whom she could never have dominated the history of the women’s game, while praising her grit to withstand auto-immune condition Sjogren’s syndrome and sustain her professional career.
Venus’s last grand slam triumph came at Wimbledon in 2008, but chances for the veteran to add to her seven crowns are now few and far between.
But when that ambition collided with Serena’s bid to swipe all grand slam titles in one season, the younger Williams set sentiment aside to complete a hugely-impressive victory. Venus fended off five break points as she battled to stay in the match in the second set, only to bow to her younger sister’s raw power.
Some 17 years after the pair’s first professional meeting and six years on from their last Wimbledon battle, Serena blasted through to the last eight.
After sweeping to the Australian and French Open, Serena’s Wimbledon form leaves her the justifiable title favourite.
“It definitely doesn’t get easier, but [yesterday] I was out there, I just thought ‘wow, I’m 33 and she’s just turned 35 and I don’t know how many more moments like this we’ll have’,” said Serena.
“I plan on playing for years, but you just never know if we’ll have an opportunity to face each other.
“So I just took the moment in, I thought ‘we’re at Wimbledon’.
“I remember when I was eight years old we dreamed of this moment, and it was kind of surreal for a minute there.
“It was really good to get it done in straight sets, put this behind me and just move forward.”
“The level she’s playing at is unprecedented,” said Venus of her 33-year-old sister Serena.
“I don’t think she would call herself the greatest player of all time because she respects everyone else and the accomplishments they’ve made. I don’t think she’s done, so we’ll see what more she does.”
Coco Vandeweghe – the New York-born granddaughter of a basketball star and former Miss America – extended her best grand slam effort yet further, defeating French Open finalist Lucie Safarova 7-6 (7/1) 7-6 (7/4).
Timea Bacsinszky moved past Monica Niculescu 1-6 7-5 6-2 to meet Caroline Wozniacki’s conqueror Garbine Muguruza, of Spain, in the quarter-finals.
Victoria Azarenka shrugged off Eastbourne winner Belinda Bencic 6-2 6-3 to set up a meeting with Serena Williams, while America’s Madison Keys needed three sets to dismiss Olga Govortsova 3-6 6-4 6-1.
Keys will now take on Agnieska Radwanska, the former Wimbledon finalist easing to a 7-5 6-4 victory over Jelena Jankovic.
Russia’s 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova will take on Vandeweghe, after seeing off Zarina Diyas 6-4 6-4.