WIMBLEDON, England -- The man most responsible for getting the Williams sisters this far doesn't even plan to watch his daughters in the Wimbledon semifinals.
Richard Williams insists he has another engagement to keep when Venus and Serena meet on Centre Court on Thursday for a place in the final of the sport's most prestigious event.
''I won't be here,'' Williams said. ''I'm going to a funeral.''
Williams shuttled between courts Tuesday to watch Serena overwhelm Lisa Raymond 6-2, 6-0, and Venus outslug top-seeded Martina Hingis 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. The Fourth of July victories set up the first all-sister semifinal in Grand Slam history.
The other semifinal will pit defending champion Lindsay Davenport against unseeded 17-year-old Australian Jelena Dokic. Davenport overcame Monica Seles 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-0, while Dokic beat Magui Serna 6-3, 6-2.
''Serena won her match, Venus won her match, Independence Day,'' Richard Williams said. ''What else could you ask for?''
Williams, who raised his daughters from toddlers to become tennis champions, traveled to Wimbledon for the first time this year to watch them play on the sport's grandest stage.
Always unpredictable and never conventional, Williams said he plans to attend the funeral Thursday of a man he didn't even know -- the friend of a Royal Air Force steward working at Wimbledon.
''Coming to watch Venus and Serena, my two girls, that is a funeral,'' Williams said. ''One of them is going to be buried. I might as well go to a real funeral. At least I get the music.''
Dad has another reason for staying away.
''I'm not going to go watch Venus beat up on Serena, or Serena beat up on Venus,'' he said. ''Who would I pull for? The wife would leave me.''
Williams, who said he would bet $75 on each daughter, promised he will go to the final no matter who wins Thursday.
Wednesday is set aside for the men's quarterfinals.
Top-seeded Pete Sampras, chasing his seventh Wimbledon title and record 13th Grand Slam championship, meets unseeded Jan-Michael Gambill; No. 2 Andre Agassi faces No. 10 Mark Philippoussis; No. 12 Patrick Rafter plays unseeded Alexander Popp; and Byron Black opposes qualifier Vladimir Voltchkov.
Venus Williams, 20, holds a 3-1 career edge against her 18-year-old sister, with wins at the Australian Open and Italian Open in 1998 and Lipton championships in 1999. Serena won their last meeting, at the Grand Slam Cup in 1999.
''The biggest challenge is that Serena is extremely powerful, extremely dangerous,'' Venus said. ''She knows everything I know."
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