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Zheng makes history
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Zheng Jie created history at Wimbledon on Tuesday, becoming the first Chinese player to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament.

The Chinese ace beat Nicole Vaidisova, of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 to set up a semifinal clash with former winner Serena Williams of the US.

Earlier, Zheng had put paid top seed Ana Ivanovic's hopes of winning her first Wimbledon crown. She beat Hungary's Agnes Szavay in the fourth round on Monday.

The 24-year-old Zheng also becomes the first wild-card entrant to reach the semifinals at the All England Club and the second at any Grand Slam.

Zheng, playing at Wimbledon for only the third time, is now just two wins away from completing a dream run.

Zheng broke Vaidisova twice in the opening set, both times when the Czech double faulted on break point. Zheng, in turn, saved six break points in the set.

Looking forward to helping quake victims

Surprise Wimbledon semi-finalist Zheng Jie will use her prize money to help the earthquake victims in her home province of Sichuan, she said on Tuesday.

"I will donate all my portion (of the prize money), I want to do as much as I can," said Zheng after becoming the first wildcard to reach the last four in the Wimbledon women's singles and the first Chinese in a grand slam semi-final.

The southwestern province of Sichaun was devastated by an earthquake on May 12 that killed nearly 70,000 people. "I hope people there will soon have their new homes," said Zheng, who did not clarify how much of her prize money at Wimbledon was hers to do as she wished and how much, if any, went to the Chinese government.

She said, however, that "the government will sponsor funds for us to travel abroad to take part in competition and as an incentive if we do well."

Zheng, who meets former champion Serena Williams in the semi-finals, has done unexpectedly well at Wimbledon after losing most of the 2007 season to a left ankle injury. Her previous best in a grand slam was reaching the fourth round in the French Open in 2004.

Should she manage to add yet another upset to her third round victory over top seed Ana Ivanovic by overcoming Williams, she will play Saturday's final on her 25th birthday.

Tennis is not a high profile sport in China and Zheng said she came to it by accident when her parents decided their very active daughter needed to focus her energy.

"Then I fell in love with it," she said, but added that the progress of the sport in her country was slow. "There is only one coach for 10 to 20 kids."

Asked why Chinese men did not feature internationally in tennis in the way women did, Zheng raised a laugh when she said: "That's a tough question. We want to know too.

"Maybe the boys choose table tennis," Zheng, Wimbledon women's doubles champion with Zi Yan in 2006, said referring to one of China's top sports.

(China Daily via agencies July 2, 2008)

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