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By Pam Shriver
Special to ESPN.com

Given how long Serena was out with her injured knee -- eight months after last year's Wimbledon -- this is as important a tournament as she'll ever play.




If she loses at Wimbledon this year, she won't be a holder of a major title for the first time in the past couple of years.



With her sister Venus knocked out early, however, Serena stepped up her determination. This will be the first time she could win Wimbledon and feel the full satisfaction of that moment. The two times she won The Championships previously, she had to defeat her sister to do it and her celebrations were subdued.



It seems that Serena doesn't listen to the criticism of all of her outside activities, yet in this season's European swing at the French and Wimbledon, she's vectored in and focused.



Serena Williams (1), United States, vs. Amelie Mauresmo (4), France
It looks like Serena's on one of those rolls in the second week of a major, which she's already won. She looks determined. Given how her play has improved, she's unlikely to take a step backward at this point.



Even though Mauresmo has a lot of athleticism and a variety of all-court tricks, Serena is just on top of her game. When she's that way she's the best in the world.
Pick: Serena



Maria Sharapova (13), Russia, vs. Lindsay Davenport (5), United States
This matchup is fascinating for a lot of reasons. Davenport is trying to go out with one more major victory, while Sharapova is in her first semifinal of a major. Sharapova is looking determined to be here many, many more times in her career and looking to go further than a semifinal appearance. Both players have special motivations tugging at them and a desire to go further.



This is going to be the more competitive of the two semifinals. Based on Davenport's play so far, she should be able to pick on Sharapova's forehand side in this semifinal. Davenport has too much power on her backhand and serve. She'll be too tough for Sharapova.



If Davenport could win two more matches, it would be a mini-version of what Pete Sampras did at the 2002 U.S. Open because it's been four and a half years since Davenport won her last major. She's certainly the sentimental pick. She's married now and has a strong desire to start a family not too far down the line. Still, even if she wins this round, getting that title might prove elusive.



An upside is that regardless of the outcome of this semifinal, Sharapova's star will continue to rise, and it's the brightest of the teenagers out there.
Pick: Davenport
 

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She's 10 for 10 this tournament. ;)
 

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Pam isn't going to lose this one. It will be a Williams/Davenport final. For some reason, she knows grass better than she knows clay.
 

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lizchris said:
Pam isn't going to lose this one. It will be a Williams/Davenport final. For some reason, she knows grass better than she knows clay.
Grass court play is a lot more predictable than clay.
 

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I'm thinking its going to be an all American Final too....but Sharapova might can crack Linday....so..I dont know..i'm pulling for Davenport slightly over Sharapova...but I want Serena to steamroll Mauresmo...so she can go back and talk about that...since she has so much to say now days.
 

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jaygee said:
I love Pam, but is she hoping for an all American final?
Well we have had an all williams/belgian/russian final so an all american seems to be in tradition. Come on serena, make history here!
 

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jenny161185 said:
now its definately going to be a Sharapova - Mauresmo final!
Sadly, you might be right. Pam just gave Serena and Lindsay the kiss of death. Thanks Pam :rolleyes: , are you ever right?
 

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Hopefully Pam doesn't get it wrong for Lindsay.
 

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dreamgoddess099 said:
Sadly, you might be right. Pam just gave Serena and Lindsay the kiss of death. Thanks Pam :rolleyes: , are you ever right?
Yes of course, I once predicted a person would win wimbledon.
 

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Pam, when are you right?? :rolleyes:
 

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C'mon guys be fair, my hormones have been all over the place lately. I blame it on the cravings for hamster food mix and mustard pancakes.
 
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