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Graf Beats Williams at Wimbledon

July 1, 1999

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) _ Seven-time champion Steffi Graf neutralized the power hitting of Venus Williams to win in three sets today and reach the semifinals on another rainy day at Wimbledon.

Graf, bidding to equal Martina Navratilova’s record of eight singles titles, overcame Williams 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in a compelling Centre Court duel that included four rain delays.

Also advancing was Lindsay Davenport, who ousted defending champion Jana Novotna 6-3, 6-4 to qualify for the semifinals for the first time in her career.

The Graf-Williams match resumed in fading light at 7:40 p.m. with the 19-year-old American ahead 2-1 on serve in the third set.

The turning point came in the fifth game when Graf, applying pressure on every shot, broke for a 3-2 lead. After a furious corner-to-corner rally, Graf converted with a forehand winner.

Graf saved three break points in the next games as Williams blew a simple forehand volley that would have evened the match.

The players remained on serve the rest of the way, with Graf converting on her first match point. When Williams hit a forehand wide, Graf hopped up and down, punched the air and let out a scream of delight.

The match, which ended at 8:10 p.m., lasted 1 hour, 52 minutes of actual playing time. But, because of the rain delays, there were 7 hours and 7 minutes between the first and last points of the match.

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