By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - After a 48-minute battering at the hands of Serena Williams on Wimbledon's Centre Court on Thursday, the last words Elena Vesnina probably wanted to hear were "see you later".
World number one Williams was not joking though as she consoled the Russian at the net, as Vesnina's consolation for a very public tennis lesson was another encounter with not one, but two Williams sisters in the women's doubles.
"Serena even told me at the net, see you later. Not long time to wait," 29-year-old Vesnina, partnering compatriot Ekaterina Makarova in the quarter-finals against Serena and older sister Venus later, joked.
"It is a little bit strange. But that's what it is, you know. How to learn, how to actually try to play her serve, how to return her serve. She's, like, serving 129 miles per hour in corner, it's really difficult to read.
"I will try to speak with my partner about these doubles and we will try to do something different."
Vesnina, a three-times grand slam doubles winner, had battled through to a first major singles semi but her challenge crumbled quickly as dropped her two opening service games.
She managed only 21 points in a semi-final that shaved three minutes off the previous Open era quickest women's semi-final when Dinara Safina was obliterated by Venus Williams in 51 minutes in 2009.
The Russian, the first unseeded woman to reach the women's semi-finals since Sabine Lisicki in 2011, never stood a chance against a fired-up Williams who will play Angelique Kerber on Saturday in a repeat of the Australian Open final.
Kerber, who stunned a nervy Williams in Melbourne to deny the American a record-equalling 22nd major title, may not want to listen to what Vesnina had to say.
"I felt like I had no chance today," Vesnina told reporters.
"I think she has now a big, big chance to win her 22nd grand slam title. I think she's in the right mood right now."
Asked whether it was just the Williams serve, that offered up just five points on Thursday, which was so tough, she said the American veteran has a cache of other weapons.
"Today for me was really difficult. She has one of the best forehand crosscourt returns. It's so fast, you cannot even finish your serve, then the ball's already passing you," she said.
"Of course, the mental part. She's the strongest one with the mentality to playing on the big courts, the big events, finals, semi-finals, grand slams. She's the best with this."
Despite a chastening experience, Vesnina was far from downhearted, especially having risen from 122 in the rankings in February to back inside the world's top 25 next week.
"If you're going to cry and be crazy after every loss, I think your nerve system will be dead by the end of your career," she said. "For me, it's just a magical tournament. I was in the semi-final. I had good wins.
"I was fighting. But it was all about Serena today."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman)