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Venus Williams reaches Wimbledon semifinals for 10th time

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LONDON — Playing at Wimbledon for the 20th time, Venus Williams is in the semifinals for the 10th time.

The five-time champion at the All England Club advanced to the last four for the second year in a row by beating Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 7-5 Tuesday under a closed roof on Centre Court.

Williams, who is 37 years old, made her Wimbledon debut in the same month that Ostapenko was born. She last won the title in 2008, but reached the semifinals last year and the Australian Open final this year.

“I love it. I try really hard,” Williams said of tennis. “There’s no other explanation. You do your best while you can. That’s what I’m doing.”

Williams will next face either second-seeded Simona Halep or Johanna Konta on Thursday. In the other women’s semifinal match, Garbine Muguruza will play either CoCo Vandeweghe or Magdalena Rybarikova. Muguruza beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-4 on No. 1 Court.

Konta was next to play on Centre Court against Halep. On Court No. 1, Rybarikova was playing Vandeweghe.

On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic advanced to the quarterfinals by beating Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-4. That match, the first to be played under the roof on Centre Court at this year’s tournament, was postponed from Monday.

Williams went up a break early in both sets against Ostapenko, the French Open champion. But the 20-year-old Latvian broke back in the second set and pushed the score to 5-5. A few unforced errors later, though, and Williams broke again for a 6-5 lead before serving out the match.

Williams ended up with eight aces and only 13 winners. Ostapenko had one ace and 20 winners.

“Been working on that serve,” Williams said. “It’s working out for me just in time, just for these later rounds. I’d like to think that I can continue to rely on that as the matches continue.”

In the first match, Djokovic was up a break in the third set when he asked for a medical timeout and a trainer examined and stretched his right shoulder. The second-seeded Serb appeared to grimace in pain a couple of times as his shoulder was being checked.

“It’s been something that I’ve been dragging back and forth for a while now,” Djokovic said. “But I’m still managing to play, which is the most important thing.”

Djokovic was broken only once, in the second set. But the 12-time major champion, who won the Wimbledon title in 2011, `14 and `15, broke Mannarino early in the third and advanced to the quarterfinals at the All England Club for the ninth time.

Mannarino has never before reached the quarterfinals at any of the four Grand Slam tournaments. He also lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2013. Last year, he lost to Djokovic in the second round at Wimbledon, also in straight sets.

Djokovic will face 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, a man he has beaten 25 times in 27 matches, on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. One of those losses, however, was in the Wimbledon semifinals in 2010.

“He’s someone that understands the occasion of playing big matches, big tournaments,” Djokovic said. “He will not get overwhelmed by the stadium or whatever. He’s been there so many years. He’s got experience.”

The men traditionally have Tuesday off at Wimbledon, but Rafael Nadal’s five-set loss to Gilles Muller on Monday forced Djokovic’s match to be pushed back a day.

The rain then started at about 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The opening match on Centre Court was due to start at noon, so the roof was closed for the first time this year. The rain came and went into the afternoon, forcing the delay of the first women’s quarterfinal match on No. 1 Court.

There was a brief rain delay on the opening day of the tournament, but the roof stayed open and the rain went away.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

This story has been corrected to show that Venus Williams made her debut at Wimbledon in the same month that Jelena Ostapenko was born, not a few months before.

Nastase banned from Fed Cup and Davis Cup until 2019

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LONDON — Ilie Nastase has been banned from the Fed Cup and Davis Cup until 2019 because of his foul-mouthed comments and bad behavior as Romania’s captain during a Fed Cup match against Britain.

In addition to the ban, the International Tennis Federation said Friday the 1973 French Open champion will not be able to work in an official capacity for a further two years, until 2021.

The 71-year-old Nastase was also fined $10,000. He has three weeks to appeal the decision.

“Mr. Nastase made a comment about Serena Williams’s unborn child that was highly inappropriate and racially insensitive,” the ITF said.

Nastase also “made advances of a sexual nature towards Anne Keothavong, the captain of the Great Britain team” and “made abusive and threatening comments to the match officials and to members of the Great Britain team.”

Although he will have to sit out ITF events, the ban does not apply to Grand Slam, ATP or WTA tournaments, which are not under the governing body’s jurisdiction.

Nastase was provisionally suspended in April after he speculated about the skin color of the baby that Williams is expecting and for outbursts during a Fed Cup match between Romania and Britain.

He previously acknowledged making mistakes and having shortcomings, but stressed “the cause I fight for is tennis, the sport I really love, which I cannot separate from my life.”

As Fed Cup captain, Nastase hurled abuse at British player Johanna Konta, Keothavong and the umpire. The referee ejected Nastase.

Nastase, a former top-ranked player, was barred from the French Open and was not invited to the Royal Box at Wimbledon, where he was a two-time finalist.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

World Cup of Tennis put on hold for at least a year

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LONDON–The International Tennis Federation is putting off its proposal for a World Cup of Tennis Finals for another year.

The ITF said last month it wanted to combine next year’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup finals into one event to raise the profile of the two national team competitions. But on Thursday, the governing body said it would not put the motion to a vote at its annual general meeting next month in Vietnam.

Other proposals, such as reducing the men’s matches to best-of-three sets and possibly skipping the final match of the series if it is already decided, will still go before member nations for ratification at the Aug. 4 meeting in Ho Chi Minh City.

“We promised change and are already delivering change with a significant series of reforms,” ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement. “Taking another year to build consensus around the World Cup of Tennis Finals will allow us to finalize an even stronger recommendation to the AGM.”

Last month, the ITF said it wanted to start staging the World Cup of Tennis in November 2018 in Geneva. The Swiss city was to host the event for three years at its 18,000-seat Palexpo.

The ITF said then that it had made the announcement of the host city well in advance in an effort to follow the successful model used by the Super Bowl and Champions League final.

But that has now been put on hold as the governing body tries to sell its idea to its voting members.

“This decision shows that we do not act unilaterally,” Haggerty said, “and are working with all our stakeholders to find the best solution for tennis.”

Haggerty also announced the creation of a World Cup of Tennis Finals task force. Board members Katrina Adams and Bernard Giudicelli have been appointed as co-chairs.

“The World Cup of Tennis Finals will unlock considerable new revenue for investing back into the sport through the ITF’s member nations,” Haggerty said. “Investment in the development of the next generation remains the priority of the ITF and its national associations.”