LONDON (Reuters) - Only three other women have etched their name on the Venus Rosewater Dish in a 12-year Williams duopoly but 2011 champion Petra Kvitova gets the chance on Tuesday to prove that the sparkling piece of silverware is not merely on loan.
The Czech has reached the quarter-finals almost unnoticed in her first defence of the title she won so refreshingly last year, but things are about to hot up for the fourth seed as the two remaining Wimbledon winners in the draw meet head on.
Serena Williams, looking to equal the five Wimbledon singles titles of big sister Venus, has struggled through to the last eight, digging deep into her reserves of willpower to overcome Zheng Jie and Yaroslava Shvedova in rounds three and four.
She may not be quite as ruthless these days but the 30-year-old slugger is still in their fighting and of the remaining eight players, none will be more hungry.
“As the tournament goes on and on, I tend to relax more and more and realise that this is a great opportunity for me,” said Williams, who said she could barely remember beating Kvitova in the semi-finals two years ago on the way to the title.
”She went on to win the title the next year, so she’s obviously a great grass court player - as well as I am.
“I’ll be ready.”
Kvitova failed to win a set in her two matches against Williams and despite claiming the title last year, she still has much to prove. Tipped as a certainty for the world number one ranking at the end of last year, she has reached a plateau.
There is no doubting she has weapons, as she proved by beating Maria Sharapova in the final last year.
However, despite reaching the semi-finals of the year’s first two grand slams she is yet to win a title in 2012 and there is a sense that she is under-achieving.
She struggled past tricky Italian Francesca Schiavone on Monday, showing plenty of fight to come back from a set and a break down, but she will have to improve again if she is to fend off what is likely to be a ferocious challenge from Williams.
”It will be huge match for both of us, and I‘m looking forward to playing against her,“ the 22-year-old Kvitova told reporters. ”I‘m looking forward to the challenge.
“She is a great champion. She won many times here. I will try my best and we will see.”
Naturally aggressive, Kvitova will try and play on her terms against Williams in what could be a battle of wills.
“As long as I get the ”W“ I‘m fine, I‘m great. I don’t feel mental strain. If anything, I feel tougher,” Williams said. (Editing by Ed Osmond)