By Sonia Oxley
Venus Williams pummelled second seed Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-3 in the fourth round of Wimbledon on Wednesday, using her power to outplay the Russian whose serving let her down.
Hitting serves of up to 126 mph (202 kph) and unleashing powerful shots into all areas of the court, the 23rd seed looked more like the Williams who has won Wimbledon three times than the one who struggled in the earlier rounds this year.
Injury has dented the American's world ranking but Sharapova said she had known that she could not underestimate her.
"I mean, you really can't be surprised because I know what she's capable of," the Russian told a news conference.
"I know she can produce great tennis. That's what has won her so many grand slams, you know, kept her at the top."
Williams said one of her strengths was that she was a big match player and was pleased with the way her game had come together.
"I think I played solid today. I think that my serve definitely was a weapon. My return definitely was very, very good," she said.
"I think when it was time, I played the percentages. When I had a chance, I went for it." Sharapova, who missed two months of this year with a shoulder injury that still needs daily treatment, struggled to hold serve and in the fourth game saved three break points before double-faulting to give Williams the advantage.
Five double faults and 12 unforced errors from the number two seed in the first set, as well as her own strong serve, helped Williams cruise to an easy lead.
"She was averaging her first serve 115 miles per hour, where my first serve, the fastest one was 115," Sharapova said.
"I couldn't really give myself any chances on the return. I think that put a little extra pressure on my serve."
The nearly two-hour rain break came at the right time for Sharapova at 1-1 in the second set and on advantage in her service game.
She came back to hold serve in the third game which lasted more than 20 minutes but it merely delayed the inevitable. Williams broke in the seventh and held in the eighth for a 5-3 lead before creating two match points. She sealed her quarter-final meeting with fifth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova on the second when the 2004 champion netted a forehand.
The match had started on Tuesday but only three points were played before rain suspended play.