London :Serena Williams avenged her 2004 Wimbledon final defeat against Maria Sharapova as the defending champion defeated her old rival 7-6 (11/9), 6-4 in the fourth round at the All England Club on Monday.
Williams and Sharapova were meeting for the first time at Wimbledon since the Russian's sensational victory six years ago.
Then just a 17-year-old with little experience at the highest level, Sharapova created one of the biggest shocks in Wimbledon history by ending Serena's two-year run as women's champion.
But Sharapova was unable to score another famous victory as Serena ground out a hard-fought win to set up a last eight clash with Chinese ninth seed Li Na.
Sharapova said: "I thought I played really well and I had my chances. If it was not for her really great serving I certainly had a real good look at winning the match.
"She served extremely well, some of the best she served against me. I gave her a run for her money but that was really the difference."
Serena had admitted before the match that she would need to summon up extra levels of intensity to subdue Sharapova and the American top seed was quickly into her stride as she broke in the early stages of the first set.
Sharapova, the 16th seed, has been around too long to be fazed by that kind of setback and she responded with a break of her own in the fifth game.
That set the scene for some brutal hitting for the rest of the set as both players blazed away from the baseline in an attempt to secure the crucial break.
The noise level rose as Sharapova matched her booming ground-strokes with some equally aggressive shrieking and Serena was soon following suit.
Even a sweltering day on Centre Court couldn't slow these two old rivals as they slugged it out all the way to a first set tie-break.
Sharapova had two set points at 6-4 in the breaker but netted to give Williams a lifeline.
Both players had to save several set points after that as they held serve to keep the lead switching from one to the other.
But Williams eventually forced the decisive error from Sharapova before serving out the set.
After an injury-hit 18 months marred by surgery on a shoulder problem, Sharapova, who had gone out in the second round on her last two appearances here, has been in good form of late.
But Serena, who had won five of their previous seven meetings, has been in an even more dominant mood, dropping just 10 games in her first three matches here and winning the first set 6-0 each time.
Now Serena had the advantage you sensed she would go for the kill and the 28-year-old broke in the third game of the second set to take a firm grip on the tie.