Serena Williams produced another staggering display of power serving to reach her seventh Wimbledon singles final with a 6-3, 7-6 victory over Victoria Azarenka.
The 30-year-old American, contesting a 21st grand slam semi-final, fired down her 24th ace, a tournament record, to snuff out the challenge of the second-seeded Belarusian who clung on bravely to force a second-set tie break.
In doing so, the 30-year-old became the oldest woman to reach the final since Steffi Graf in 1999 and only Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska - who beat Germany's Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4 - stands between her and a fifth All England Club title.
Azarenka saved one match point at 5-6 but Williams bounced back to seal the tie break 8-6, moving to the brink of her 14th grand slam singles title and first since overcoming career-threatening injuries and illness.
She crouched down and roared with delight before shaking hands with her opponent and jumping up and down on Centre Court in scenes of unbridled joy.
"It definitely is quite special," sixth-seeded Williams told a news conference. "I feel like just getting there and doing so well is pretty cool.
"I'm just trying to do the best that I can. I have so much appreciation for every moment on the court. I really take pride in playing in such amazing tournaments such as this.
Williams, who reached the doubles semi-finals with her sister Venus later on Thursday, said she was not aware she was serving so well.
"I honestly didn't feel great on my serve today," she said. "I thought my serve was off and clearly it wasn't.
"My game is pretty aggressive and I was just trying to play my game. My serve is mean and as I get older I rely on it a bit more."
Williams dominated the first set in the sunshine, barely conceding a point on her own serve and regularly threatening to break Azarenka.
The second set was much tighter, however, as Azarenka clawed her way into the match, finding the range on her dipping groundstrokes and breaking the Williams serve for the first time in the sixth game.
The Australian Open winner pushed the four-times Wimbledon champion into a tie-break and saved a match point when Williams lobbed long but the American took her next opportunity with yet another ace to seal victory in 96 minutes.
The American will play Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska in Saturday's final.
"My biggest challenge is Agnieszka is really, really good at everything," Williams said. "She has unbelievable hands. She's running every ball down.
"It's going to be challenging. She's already ranked ahead of me, so I think it will be a really good match."
Radwanska, who not only will contest her first grand slam final on Saturday but could also claim the number one ranking if she wins, may want to avoid watching a Williams DVD as she prepares for the biggest day of her career.
Williams hit more aces in one set on Thursday than the Pole has struck in the entire tournament.
The former Wimbledon junior champion, who has become the first Pole to reach a grand slam final since Jadwiga Jedrzejowska at the French Championships in 1939, is not known for a power game, more the accuracy and intelligence that proved too much for Germany's Kerber.
The third seed slipped 3-1 behind in a nervy start to her first grand slam semi-final but soon had Kerber on the run with her superior court craft.
After sealing the first set with an ace, Radwanska broke again early in the second and never remotely looked like relinquishing her lead.
"I'm the first (Polish) player to win in a semi-final for many years, so I think this is already a big success," Radwanska, who lifted the junior title in 2005, said.
"And now here in the final, it's even bigger. This tournament is already one of the big part of tennis history in Poland. I'm happy to be part of that."