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Serena Williams reached her ninth Wimbledon semi-final after subduing inspired former world number one Victoria Azarenka in the best women's match of the tournament so far.

Both players came out with music pumping through headphones and they proceeded to deliver a high-powered slugfest on the Centre Court grass as Williams hit back to win 3-6 6-2 6-3.

Serena will take on another former world number one Maria Sharapova who made it a remarkable 20 victories from 23 grand slam quarter-finals but was pushed all the way by feisty American Coco Vandeweghe before emerging a 6-3 6-7(3) 6-2 winner.

Belarussian Azarenka, who once spent 51 weeks on top of the rankings and who is returning to her best after a serious foot injury stalled her career, dominated the opening set, but could not sustain the tempo as Williams found another gear.

The world number one struck 46 winners, including 17 aces, as she took her record over Azarenka to 17-3 and she can now set her sights on Sharapova - a player she has beaten 16 times in succession.

The 33-year-old American, bidding for a sixth Wimbledon crown and 21st grand slam singles title, not to mention a fabled calendar-year grand slam after winning the Australian and French Opens, looked unstoppable by the end.

"I feel like me and Victoria always have really wonderful matches," Williams said after her 41st grand slam quarter-final.

"She's always able to push it to three sets. We always have some great three-set matches.

"Whenever I see her name I get excited because I feel like there's going to be an opportunity to see how well I'm doing."

Prior to this match, Sharapova had not dropped a set all tournament [Getty Images]

Sharapova, meanwhile, Wimbledon champion as a 17-year-old in 2004 but a finalist only once since, had not dropped a set in this year's tournament coming into the last-eight contest.

However, after a relatively untroubled first set on Centre Court, she lost a hugely entertaining second as the two identikit 6ft-plus blondes with matching white visors slugged it out.

"I was pretty dominant in the first and early in the second set but things slipped away," said the five-time grand slam champion.

"She's playing with a lot of confidence but I really regrouped in the third.

"You have to give everything you have on a special occasion on a special court."

In the other semi-final, Agnieszka Radwanska will take on Garbine Muguruza Blanco.

Radwanska beat American Madison Keys 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals for the third time in four years.

Results:

1-Serena Williams (U.S.) beat 23-Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) 3-6 6-2 6-3 

13-Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) beat 21-Madison Keys (U.S.) 7-6(3) 3-6 6-3

4-Maria Sharapova (Russia) beat CoCo Vandeweghe (U.S.) 6-3 6-7(3) 6-2

20-Garbine Muguruza Blanco (Spain) beat 15-Timea Bacsinszky (Switzerland) 7-5 6-3

Source: Reuters