WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Aryna Sabalenka reached the semifinals at Wimbledon for the second straight time, with a one-year break in between because she was banned from the tournament in 2022.
Sabalenka, a Belarusian who is seeded second at the All England Club, had to sit out last year’s competition along with other players from her country and from Russia because of the war in Ukraine. She advanced Wednesday by beating Madison Keys 6-2, 6-4 on No. 1 Court.
“It really feels amazing to be back in the semifinals. I can’t wait to play in my second semifinal at Wimbledon,” said Sabalenka, who lost to runner-up Karolina Pliskova in 2021. “Hopefully I can do better than I did last time.”
The victory improved Sabalenka’s record to 17-1 at major tournaments this year. She won the Australian Open and reached the semifinals at the French Open before her five wins so far on the grass at Wimbledon.
Sabalenka, the only former major champion remaining in the women’s tournament, also improved her record to 6-0 in Grand Slam quarterfinal matches, and she did so despite much of the cheering going toward Keys on Wednesday.
“Thank you so much for the atmosphere, even though you supported her more,” Sabalenka said on court. “I still enjoyed playing in front of you guys.”
Sabalenka will next face Ons Jabeur, a sixth-seeded Tunisian who beat defending champion Elena Rybakina 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-1 on Centre Court in a rematch of last year’s final.
“I wish we can exchange this match from finals last year,” said Jabeur, who lost to Rybakina in three sets in 2022.
Jabeur won eight of the last nine games to reach the semifinals at a major tournament for the third time. She is 2-0 in the previous two, also reaching the final at last year’s U.S. Open.
“I’m going to keep the spirit on the court and hopefully the crowd will be with me,” Jabeur said of the match against Sabalenka.
Jabeur will play Sabalenka in the second match on Centre Court on Thursday for a spot in Saturday’s final. Elina Svitolina will face Marketa Vondrousova in the early match.
Later Wednesday in the men’s quarterfinals, top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz was scheduled to face Holger Rune on Centre Court. Daniil Medvedev was to play Chris Eubanks on No. 1 Court.
Queen Camilla was in attendance on Day 10 of the tournament, about a week after Kate, the Princess of Wales, sat in the Royal Box.