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Sharapova reached the semifinals at the All England Club in 2005 and 2006, but then went through a four-year stretch when she lost twice in the second round and twice in the fourth. Last year, the Russian made it back to the final _ her first at a Grand Slam tournament since the 2008 Australian Open _ before losing to Petra Kvitova.

“It was definitely a big step for me in the right direction,” Sharapova said. “It had been a while.”

It’s been a while right now for Williams, who isn’t used to long stretches between Grand Slam titles. Her last came two years ago at Wimbledon; less than a week later, she cut her feet on glass at a restaurant, precipitating a string of health problems that sidelined her for three majors in a row.

The only time in her Grand Slam career that she went more than two years without winning one of the sport’s top four events came during a gap from the 1999 U.S. Open until the 2002 French Open _ and her title in Paris back then began a run of four consecutive major championships.

For someone who loves holding up trophies, that must have been fun.


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