Wimbledon: Surprise and blockbuster semis

Four unique talents, four captivating storylines, there will be a new name on the Venus Rosewater Dish this Wimbledon

Ons Jabeur / Quarts de finale Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

The women's Wimbledon semi-finalists all bring their own back story, why it would be special for them to triumph on Centre Court on Saturday afternoon.

Well, they're one step away from featuring in the prestigious silverware showdown at SW19.

Let's take a look at the remaining quartet at The All England Club.

Elina Svitolina vs Marketa Vondrousova

Fiercely intent on bringing her Ukrainian compatriots joy in dark times, bring in the light-hearted factor of missing a Harry Styles concert, and then an astonishing return from maternity leave, Elina Svitolina's wild card run at Wimbledon is some script.

It's been coming. The 28-year-old returned to the tour in April and has since lifted a title in Strasbourg, soared into the Roland-Garros last eight and at Wimbledon, she outlasted world No.1 Iga Swiatek 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-2 to book her semi-final ticket.

The former world No.3's tennis this fortnight has been miraculous. Playing with purpose, but also a sense of freedom, Svitolina has lit up her matches with exhilarating rallies and dogged defence.

Elina Svitolina / Quarts de finale Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

The Ukrainian has been roared on by ardent support in the stands, she's competed with her heart on her sleeve. It all counts more than a Grand Slam for Svitolina.

"I think it's mixture of everything. Also, I think war made me stronger… I know that lots of people back in Ukraine watching. Just happy I could bring little happiness to people of Ukraine.

"Mentally I don't take difficult situations as like a disaster. There are worse things in life. I'm just more calmer," stated Svitolina, not taking anything for granted.

"I think also, because I'm just starting to play again, I have different pressures. Right now I just say to myself I think it's less years that I have in front than behind me. I have to go for it. I don't have time to lose anymore."

Svitolina will walk onto Centre Court with Marketa Vondrousova. She may edge a 3-2 head-to-head, but the Czech won their most recent clash in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics semi-finals.

For Vondrousova it's been a matter of patience, having been derailed by two wrist surgeries since reaching the Roland-Garros 2019 final.

The unassuming left-hander has dismissed four seeded rivals en route to the last four, including an astonishing comeback from 1-4 down in the decider of a quarter-final triumph over Jessica Pegula. The world No.42 in remarkably underrated, but not by her peers.

Vondrousova and Svitolina have chatted a bit on Instagram, the 24-year-old has nothing but respect for her upcoming opponent.

"She received a wild card and she's in semis. It's incredible. I feel like it's such a short time after a baby. She's doing amazing things," said Vondrousova.

"I'm with her all the way. She's fighting so much for everything. Now she's just playing amazing tennis also. She's a super woman."

Marketa Vondrousova / Quarts de finale Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Ons Jabeur vs Aryna Sabalenka

The second semi-final is pure box office.

For Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka there is a double prize on offer this week. With Swiatek out, the world No.2 can rise to the summit of the rankings for the very first time, as well as collecting a second major title.

"To be honest, I want both," said Sabalenka with a huge grin. "But I'm trying to focus on myself because I know if I'll start thinking about all this stuff, I'm going to lose my focus on court, my game."

Sabalenka's firepower has yielded a 3-1 record in tussles with the Tunisian trailblazer Ons Jabeur. Rewind two years and Sabalenka took the honours 6-4, 6-3 in the Wimbledon elite eight.

The 25-year-old is anything but surprised by the 2022 finalist returning to the latter stages at The All England Club.

"Actually we practiced here before Wimbledon. I felt like she's going to do well here because she played unbelievable tennis on practice court. She was able to bring this level on matches," mused Sabalenka.

"She's a great player. We always had tough battles against each other, very close matches. I really looking forward for this great battle."

Aryna Sabalenka / Quarts de finale Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Meanwhile, Jabeur has managed to enthral the south west London crowds once again with her versatility and hot shot antics. The No.6 seed, the 'Minister of Happiness,' has been competing with her trademark smile.

However, having gained revenge over Elena Rybakina for last year's final in a pulsating 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-1 triumph on Wednesday, Jabeur is seeking another strike at revenge.

Fearless and flamboyant, Ons in this mood appears unstoppable.

"Another player who hits very hard. Very emotional on the court. It's going to be very difficult match. Probably her shouting that way, me shouting this way," assessed Jabeur, ahead of duelling with Sabalenka.

"Aryna is more emotional than Elena, so maybe it could be a good or bad thing, I'm not sure. But let's see tomorrow. I'm going to prepare and take my revenge from two years ago.

"I think I showed to myself that I can stand up against these players. It's a great proof for me to start the game and to be confident and to go 100 per cent. Honestly, I have nothing to lose. I'm going to go play like the second and third set like I played today."

Ons Jabeur / Quarts de finale Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT