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July 24, 2017

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It's Venus versus Garbine Muguruza in the Wimbledon final

LONDON -- American Venus Williams and Spaniard Garbine Muguruza on Thursday lined up a high-profile Wimbledon final as the pair of former Grand Slam champions crushed opponents in straight sets.

Williams, chasing a sixth trophy on the grass of the All England club, put down a British challenge from Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2.

Meanwhile, Muguruza closed within one victory of a second grand slam title as the 14th seed hammered Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1, 6-1.

The 37-year-old Williams sealed her place in the Saturday title match with a forehand winner after an hour and a quarter, but only after Konta saved a pair of match points.

"I've played a lot of finals here. One more win will be amazing. It won't be a given, but I'll give it my all," Williams said.

"The crowd were very nice to me, they were so fair, I know they love Jo.

"This year has been amazing in terms of my play, playing deep into the big events actually. Of course, I'm excited about being again in another final. Try to take it a step further.

"I feel very focused still, there's still a lot to be done. I have one more match that I'd like to win. I have to go out there and take it and play well."

Konta has 20 wins to 16 for seven-time grand slam champion Williams, who claimed her last Wimbledon title in 2005. Konta lost eight of the last 10 games as her American opponent took flight.

"She did what she does well, she dictated the match from the very first ball till the very last one," Konta said. "She just showed her true qualities and why she's a five-time champion here.

"It was very difficult for me to get a good foothold in the match. The few opportunities that I did get, she did incredibly well to take them away from me.

"I don't think I did too much wrong out there. I think it was all credit to her."

Muguruza moved through in just over an hour as she outclassed number 87 Rybarikova, a player lacking in experience at major events.

Muguruza, 2016 Roland Garros winner, will be playing her second final at the All England Club in three years.

"I just went out there and didn't expect anything," the Spaniard said. "I just expected myself to be ready as much as I could. Maybe the score did look easier than actually playing the games.

"It's incredible to be here in another final, because it means a lot. It's a grand slam. I lost two years ago, so I really look forward this one to try to change that."

Muguruza lost to younger sister Serena Williams in the 2015 Wimbledon final.

Despite her loss, Rybarikova had made her mark in the draw with upset wins over third seed Karolina Pliskova and American Coco Vanderweghe.

But Muguruza wasted no time in taking command of the one-way contest, racing to 3-0 after just 10 minutes. The pattern continued throughout the quick rout.

The Spaniard reached the final with a total of just 39 games lost over the fortnight.

"Even if the score is 6-1, 4-1, or something, you're never calm, no matter what happens," Muguruza said. "I could be 6-1, 5-0, doesn't matter.

"So I try to be composed, and until I shake hands it's not mine yet."

Muguruza guaranteed herself a return to the ranking top 10. Winning the title would vault her into the top five.

Rybarikova, who came back from wrist surgery, said she had little to offer in the match.

"It was very, very tough for me, I'm very disappointed," she said. "It was 6-1, 6-1, but still I made an amazing run here to the semifinals.

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