Saturday 19 October 2019

'Avenger' Williams has to summon inner strength to reach last four

Serena Williams celebrates beating Alison Riske during their women's singles quarter-final match on day eight of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Serena Williams celebrates beating Alison Riske during their women's singles quarter-final match on day eight of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Daniel Schofield

After unleashing her inner Hulk on the practice court on Sunday, Serena Williams turned Iron Woman to overcome fellow American Alison Riske in three compelling sets to reach her 37th grand slam semi-final.

Momentum appeared to be deserting Williams after Riske won the second set and went a break up at the start of the third. Whatever rust accrued by her 37 years and the effects of motherhood, Williams still knows how to flick that superhero switch when called upon. Riske, who had brought her best game to her maiden Wimbledon quarter-final, was duly broken twice in succession.

On match point, Williams produced an 121mph ace, her fastest of the game and the 41st of the tournament, to seal victory. She is now with within two victories of an eighth Wimbledon crown, which would equal Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles.

If Williams made an impression against Riske then she also left her mark on one of the practice courts, for which she was fined £8,000.

Given that she has guaranteed herself £588,000 from reaching the last four, such an amount may seem small change, but she was still nonplussed as to her punishment. "I just threw my racquet," Williams said. "I guess if you could tell me, I would appreciate it. I mean, I have always been an Avenger in my heart. Maybe I'm super strong, I don't know."

Self-penned

Nor did Williams show a great deal of contrition in a self-penned article reflecting upon her 2018 US Open final defeat by Naomi Osaka published yesterday for 'Harper's Bazaar'. The match will be remembered less for Osaka's victory than Williams's behaviour, in which she garnered a code violation for receiving coaching, a point penalty for smashing her racquet and a docked game for calling chair umpire Carlos Ramos "a thief".

Williams says she later wrote to apologise to Osaka, but continued to defend her abuse of Ramos on the basis of perceived sexism.

"I felt defeated and disrespected by a sport that I love - one that I had dedicated my life to and that my family truly changed, not because we were welcomed, but because we wouldn't stop winning," she wrote. "So often, in situations similar to mine, when men fight back against the referees, they're met with a smile or even a laugh from the umpire, as if they're sharing an inside joke. I'm not asking to avoid being penalised. I am asking to be treated the same way as everyone else."

There was no such drama yesterday and a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory earns her a semi-final with Barbora Strycova tomorrow. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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