Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber reach Wimbledon semifinals

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Serena rallies to advance to Wimbledon semis (0:38)

Serena Williams loses the first set, but recovers to defeat Camila Giorgi and continue her quest for an eighth Wimbledon title. (0:38)

LONDON -- Serena Williams came up with a comeback to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon, then walked off Centre Court with her right index finger aloft.

Yes, no matter what the rankings or seedings say, she still looks as if she's capable of playing like someone who's No. 1.

Williams moved closer to her eighth title at the All England Club and 24th Grand Slam trophy overall -- but first since missing more than a year while having a baby -- by beating Camila Giorgi of Italy 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

"Everything right now is a little bit of a surprise," Williams said. "To be here. To be in the semifinals. I mean, I always say I plan on it, I would like to be there, have these goals. But when it actually happens, it still is, like, 'Wow, this is really happening.'

"This is only my fourth tournament back, so I don't feel pressure. I don't feel I have to win this; I don't feel I have to lose this. I'm just here just to be here and to prove that I'm back. And I feel like I'm back. I still have a long way to go to be where I was."

Williams was seeded 25th by the All England Club, a nod to all of her past success at the grass-court major, including titles the last two times she entered it, in 2015 and 2016. She missed Wimbledon a year ago because she was pregnant, and she went about 16 months between Grand Slam tournaments, so her ranking is just outside the top 180.

That is going to change now.

Next up for the 36-year-old American is a match against No. 13 seed Julia Goerges of Germany, a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 winner against No. 20 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands.

The 52nd-ranked Giorgi, who had never taken a set off Williams in three previous meetings, overpowered the American to take the first set, hitting more winners and aces.

Williams never was worried about losing.

"It's weird. Sometimes I feel, 'Man, I'm in trouble.' Sometimes I feel, 'I can fight.' For whatever reason, today I was so calm," said Williams, who has been wearing compression leggings as a precaution after a blood-clot scare following her daughter's birth. "Even when I was down the first set, I thought, 'Well, she's playing great. I'm doing a lot of the right things.'"

Williams lifted her intensity in the second set, avoiding any break points as she secured one break of her own.

Williams hit six of her seven aces in the final set, including one clocked at 122 mph, and won 44 of the last 54 points she served.

She now has a 39-35 record when losing the first set at a major.

"After the first set, I was like, 'All right, let's go three sets.' And that's kind of what I thought. ... 'I'll just keep fighting," Williams said.

Angelique Kerber, the highest-seeded player remaining in the women's draw at No. 11, finally converted on her seventh match point to advance to the Wimbledon semifinals.

The two-time Grand Slam champion from Germany defeated No. 14 Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 7-5 on Centre Court to reach the semifinals at the All England Club for a third time.

Kerber took advantage of Kasatkina's erratic serving and errors to return to the last four. Kasatkina finished with seven double faults, including one on break point in the second game and then two straight to hand Kerber a 5-3 lead in the first set -- halting her momentum just after breaking to get back on serve with the help of one of the best rallies of the match.

Still, Kerber had some trouble closing things out.

She served for the victory at 5-4 in the second set, but got broken. When she served for it a second time, she needed to navigate a 16-point game that included five deuces and all of those match points, until forcing a forehand error on the last one.

Kerber was the runner-up at Wimbledon in 2016, when she surged to No. 1 in the world rankings after winning the Australian Open and US Open. However, she took a big step back in 2017, going 1-12 against WTA top-20 players and failing to win a singles title.

She has bounced back in 2018, winning more than 75 percent of her matches and a title while racking up 10 wins vs. top-20 players.

Kasatkina, who earlier this year became the fifth player in WTA history with multiple wins over a WTA No. 1 before her 21st birthday, had 31 unforced errors, including seven double faults. She was in the last eight at Wimbledon for the first time.

Kerber and Kasatkina are the only two women to reach the second week at all three majors this year.

Kerber will next face 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who became the first Latvian woman to reach a Wimbledon semifinal with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Dominika Cibulkova.

In a match that featured eight breaks of serve -- four in the first five games -- Ostapenko was able to elevate her game in the crucial moments.

She was the aggressor throughout, hitting 33 winners to Cibulkova's six, but also doubling her opponent's unforced-error count.

Goerges, who had never made it past the third round in her 10 previous appearances at the All England Club, advanced with a comeback victory over Bertens.

Goerges had gone out in the first round at Wimbledon for the past five years.

"Every match starts from zero," Goerges said of her semifinal matchup against Williams. "Everybody has the same chances to win that match, and I'm looking forward to it."

Williams is 3-0 against Goerges, winning in straight sets each time.

With Kerber also advancing, it is the first time two German women will play in the Wimbledon semifinals since 1931. The last time two German women reached any Grand Slam semifinals was at the 1993 French Open, featuring Steffi Graf and Anke Huber.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.