Serena Williams stayed on track for an eighth Wimbledon title as she fought back to beat Italian Camila Giorgi 3-6 6-3 6-4 in a fiercely contested quarter-final on Tuesday.

For the first time in the tournament the 36-year-old was seriously challenged as unseeded Giorgi fought fire with fire to claim the first set on Centre Court.

Williams responded by raising the intensity level and began striking the ball with ferocious power to break Giorgi’s serve for the first time on her way to levelling the match.

World number 52 Giorgi dropped serve to love early in the decider but hung in gamely to at least make Williams serve to reach her 35th Grand Slam semi-final and 11th at Wimbledon.

Williams stepped up to the line at 5-4 and brought up match point with an ace before completing victory when Giorgi could only push a forehand into the net.

Germany’s Julia Goerges advanced to the Wimbledon semi-finals for the first time with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 win against Dutch 20th seed Kiki Bertens on Tuesday.

 Goerges, seeded 13th, faces seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams on Thursday for a place in Saturday’s final.

Goerges had suffered five successive opening round defeats at the All England Club before this year.

It also took her until her 42nd Grand Slam appearance to finally get through to the last four at a major.