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Serena anoints Konta as future Melbourne Park champion

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - 25/1/17 Britain's Johanna Konta reacts during her Women's singles quarter-final match against Serena Williams of the U.S. .REUTERS/Edgar Su
Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - 25/1/17 Britain's Johanna Konta reacts during her Women's singles quarter-final match against Serena Williams of the U.S. .REUTERS/Edgar Su

By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - It may be a measure of the greatness of Serena Williams that she can anoint a player a future grand slam champion after destroying her in straight sets.

That is exactly what she did with Johanna Konta on Wednesday, having sent the British ninth seed spinning out of the tournament with a 6-2 6-3 thrashing in the quarter-finals.

Second seed Williams will continue her pursuit for a long-awaited 23rd grand slam title with a semi-final clash against Croatian veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

Konta leaves Melbourne Park after "one of the best experiences of (her) life" and with the ultimate compliment from American Williams.

"She always does really well here," Williams told reporters of 25-year-old Konta, a surprise semi-finalist last year.

"She tends to do really good in Australia. With her game, I definitely see her as a future champion.

"All around, I feel like she's a great all-around player. So I feel like I had to be on it all around today."

Barring 25-year-old Coco Vandeweghe, three of the four women's semi-finalists have reached their 34th birthday, laying waste to a procession of younger, higher-ranked women.

Williams's older sister Venus, 36, will play fellow American Vandeweghe in the other semi-final.

The three thirty-somethings have all suffered setbacks through their careers, with the Williams sisters overcoming health issues and Lucic-Baroni battling back from a series of personal problems, including alleged abuse by her father.

"I'm just really happy for Venus, obviously," the younger Williams sibling said.

"She's doing amazing. I'm really happy for Mirjana, as well.

"Like I said, I was there when she first started. To see her be able to never give up actually is super inspiring to me. It's a wonderful story," the 35-year-old added.

"At the end of the day, it really helps me to realise that you have to always go for your dreams. So I feel like it's just great."

Every win at a grand slam tends to prompt reminders about her longevity and her victory over Konta proved to be no different.

She was asked how she felt about compatriot Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, being installed into the ITF Hall of Fame at the age of 34, having already been retired for more than four years.

"I've kind of come to terms with that because I've seen players in the locker room that I've played, they're on the legends tour," she said of the seniors circuit.

"I think I was older than some of those players. I was wondering, 'should I be on the legends tour?'"

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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