Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates after defeating Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in their women's quarter-final tennis match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London July 3, 2012.        REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN  - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

Reuters

WIMBLEDON, England - The sounds were new to Serena Williams, and the feeling on Centre Court was different. The result, though, was quite familiar.

Playing under the retractable roof for the first time on the court where she's had some of her biggest triumphs, Williams defeated defending champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 7-5 to reach her eighth Wimbledon semifinal on Tuesday.

"I loved it. I loved the sound," Williams said. "The sound of the balls. It's kind of like a whoosh and a pop. It's really cool. It's almost like a video game, but you're playing. It kind of flies through and you hear it when it lands. ... I really like playing indoor."

Her game seems well-suited for it.

While rain disrupted play elsewhere at the All England Club, Williams used another commanding serving performance to overpower the fourth-seeded Czech. Williams hit 13 aces - including three in the last game - to end Kvitova's 11-match winning streak at Wimbledon. Her last loss here also came against Williams, in the 2010 semifinals.

"You can't play a defending Wimbledon champion or Grand Slam champion and not elevate your game," Williams said. "I had to weed out the riffraff and just get serious."

The American four-time champion seized control by breaking Kvitova for 4-2 in the first set and then never gave her opponent a chance to get back in the match. She saved a set point when trailing 5-4 in the second with a hard serve down the middle that Kvitova could return only into the net. That was the only break point the defending champion earned, as Williams won 86 percent of the points on her first serve.

"I think that's why she's the great champion, because she knows what she needs to play in the important points," Kvitova said. "It's really tough to beat her."

Williams, who hit a Wimbledon-record 23 aces in a fourth-round win over Zheng Jie of China, is trying to become the first woman 30 or over to win a Grand Slam title since Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon in 1990.

The 30-year-old Williams will face either second-ranked Victoria Azarenka or Tamira Paszek of Austria.

Outside Centre Court, it was a start-and-stop day at Wimbledon, as showers continued to cause headaches for organizers.

Angelique Kerber reached the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time by taking the final four games to edge Sabine Lisicki 6-3, 6-7 (7), 7-5 Tuesday.

It was the first Grand Slam quarterfinal betwee two German women since Steffi Graf beat Claudia Kohde-Kilsch at the 1989 Australian Open.

The eighth-seeded Kerber, also a semifinalist at last year's U.S. Open, wasted three match points in the second set against the 15th-seeded Lisicki. Kerber then fell behind in the third set, but broke when Lisicki served for the match at 5-3, and broke again at 5-5.

In the final game, Lisicki saved a fourth match point, before Kerber converted her fifth under the closed roof at Centre Court.

Kerber improved to 16-1 in three-set matches this season.