RESILIENT SERENA INTO
WIMBLEDON SEMIFINALS AGAIN
Ashley Marshall | July 10, 2018
Told after her quarterfinal win that her ranking was almost back in the Top 50, Serena Williams had two thoughts: it’s better than the No. 181 it was, and it’s still not No. 1.
For the 23-time Grand Slam women’s singles champion, perfection is the ultimate goal, even if it’s the hardest, most impossible of lofty aspirations.
But what makes Williams arguably the greatest athlete of all time is that even though she realizes she’s chasing that proverbial unicorn, she’s never going to stop pushing in her pursuit of it, impossible or not.
And on Tuesday, Williams continued her quest for capturing something magical, rallying from a set down to defeat surprise Wimbledon quarterfinalist Camila Giorgi, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The win, her 18th consecutive at the All England Club, moves her into the Wimbledon semifinals for the 11th time in her career.
She’ll now face No. 13 seed Julia Goerges – a player against whom she is 3-0 lifetime, including a win at Roland Garros last month – on Thursday for a spot in her 10th Wimbledon championship.
“Well, it's better than 183,” Williams said of her provisional ranking of 51. “Whatever I am. Got to keep trekking on, though. 'Serena Williams, 51.' It doesn't have the same ring to it. The '1' part does, but not the '5.' Keep going."
Williams has already climbed 130 places to No. 51 in the world. She’ll be up to No. 28 if she defeats Goerges and No. 19 if she raises the Venus Rosewater Dish on championship Saturday.
But the ranking is surely the least of her concerns as she prepares for her 35th career major semifinal.
Against Giorgi in Centre Court on Tuesday, Williams was in danger of missing out on a spot in the final four altogether.
Despite losing her first set of The Championships against the unseeded Italian, Williams turned in an incredibly clean match against a fierce ball-striker who came out with the free-swinging mentality of someone with nothing to lose, instead of a first-time Slam quarterfinalist.
Williams, competing at Wimbledon for the first time since beating Angelique Kerber in the 2016 final, recorded 24 winners to just nine unforced errors, breaking twice and saving one of the two break points she faced.
Giorgi broke Williams in the sixth game of the opening set to establish the early lead, but Williams’ trademark determination and self-belief never wavered. The 36-year-old American broke for a 3-1 lead on her way to taking the second set, and she replicated the feat for a 2-1 advantage in the decider.
The Italian held her next three service games to keep within touching distance, but she was unable to make inroads in the return game, as the seven-time Wimbledon champion won 13 consecutive points on serve.
"I wasn’t surprised by the first set,” Williams told the BBC after the match. “I don’t know what I did. I just thought, ‘All right, let’s go three sets.’ Just keep fighting. I feel good about my game. I did better in this match – I had to – but it’s only my fourth tournament back. I don’t feel pressure. I don’t feel I have to win. I feel like I’m back, but I still have a long way to go."
In other Day 9 action, Mike Bryan and Jack Sock defeated Divij Sharan and Artem Sitak, 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, to move on to the men's doubles semifinals. The victory assures Bryan of climbing back to No. 1 in the world when the new rankings are released Monday.
There were also second-round girls' junior wins for third-seeded French Open champion Coco Gauff, No. 13 seed Caty McNally and Lea Ma, and second-round boys' singles victories for Cannon Kingsley, Trey Hilderbrand and Tristan Boyer.