LONDON — In 11 of the past 13 years, Serena or Venus Williams — and sometimes both — reached the Wimbledon final. The sisters collected five championships each in that span.
This time around, Serena lost in the fourth round. Venus didn’t show up at all, sidelined by a bad lower back.
So the 2013 semifinals at the All England Club on Thursday will be populated by a far less famous, and far less accomplished, bunch. Still, No. 4-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, No. 15 Marion Bartoli of France, No. 20 Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium and No. 23 Sabine Lisicki of Germany provide a fitting foursome for a Wimbledon unlike any other.
Not only has none of the four women left won a Wimbledon title, none has won any Grand Slam title.
Petra Kvitova, the tournament’s 2011 champion, probably put it best after losing in the quarterfinals: “Very weird Grand Slam over here.”
Indeed. Never before in the 45-year Open era had no previous major champion reached the Wimbledon women’s semifinals.
There were eight owners of Grand Slam trophies in the field when play began last week. One by one, they left, with Lisicki accounting for three: She beat Francesca Schiavone in the first round and Sam Stosur in the third, before stopping Serena Williams’ 34-match winning streak.
Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic lost in the second round, the same day Victoria Azarenka pulled out because of a knee injury. The last major winners were sent home Tuesday, when Flipkens beat Kvitova, and Radwanska eliminated Li Na.
“Very unexpected,” Bartoli said, describing the semifinal lineup, along with the whole tournament, “but that’s also the magic of it.”
On Thursday, she will play Flipkens, and Radwanska will face Lisicki.
The women’s quartet, meanwhile, has participated in a total of two Grand Slam finals, both at Wimbledon: Bartoli lost to Venus Williams in 2007, and Radwanska lost to Serena Williams last year.
This is Lisicki’s second Grand Slam semifinal; she lost one at Wimbledon two years ago. Flipkens, meanwhile, only once even made it as far as the fourth round at a major tournament until this week, so she’ll be making her semifinal debut.
She sure has come a long way from a year ago at this time, when she was winning the title at a low-level, $25,000 tournament on clay. Blood clots in her leg had forced her off the WTA tour for two months, and her ranking slid outside the top 250, so she couldn’t even get into the draw for qualifying at Wimbledon.
“I think I’m the most surprising name in the last four,” Flipkens acknowledged, “but I don’t really care, to be honest, at this moment.”