Wimbledon: friendship or chempionship?

Lately she has won, and she'll bid for her first berth in a Wimbledon final when she plays Justine Henin-Hardenne in an all-Belgian semifinal Thursday.

But Clijsters puts friendships ahead of championships.

Clijsters lost her first four Grand Slam finals before she claimed the U.S. Open title last year, disproving the theory that she was too nice to win a major event. However, the theory persists that she's too nice to win a big match in her rivalry with Henin-Hardenne, whose grit ranks among her greatest attributes.

They've played 19 times since 2001, with Clijsters winning 10. But Henin-Hardenne has won their past four meetings in major tournaments, including three times in finals and in the semifinals last month at the French Open, which she went on to win.

There are doubts about Amelie Mauresmo's big-match mettle, too. She won her first major title at the Australian Open in January, but her path was eased when opponents Clijsters and Henin-Hardenne retired because of ailments in the final two rounds.

With semifinal losses in her past three appearances at Wimbledon, the No. 1-seeded Mauresmo will try again against No. 4 Maria Sharapova.

For the fifth time in the past 25 years, the semifinals feature the four top-seeded women. Each has been No. 1, and the quartet includes the winners of the past three Grand Slam events.

But only Sharapova has won Wimbledon  in 2004. She'll try to improve on a 20-2 career record at the All England Club when she faces Mauresmo.

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