Thanks to a bit of advice from her big sister and a bunch of aces from her big serve, Serena Williams is back in the Wimbledon semi-finals.
With two more victories, Serena will be holding a Grand Slam trophy for the first time in two years.
The thud of racket against ball reverberating under the closed Centre Court roof, Serena smacked 13 aces at up to 193kph and overpowered defending champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 7-5 in the quarter-finals on Tuesday at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
Beforehand, Williams’ father and coach, Richard, asked his other title-winning daughter to relay some suggestions.
“I went and had Venus talk to her, because Venus can get [through] to Serena better than anyone in the world. So I told Venus: ‘I’m not going to talk to her. You talk to her.’ So Venus went and talked to her. When the match was over, I told her: ‘Venus: Good coaching. Good coaching.’” Richard Williams said after snapping photos of Serena’s victory from his front-row perch in the guest box above a scoreboard.
“I wanted Serena to move her feet a little bit more and to not concentrate on what the girl’s doing, but concentrate exactly on what she wished to do, and that was the only message,” he said.
Consider it delivered.
The 30-year-old Serena, bidding to become the first woman at least that age to win a major title since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1990, turned in her best performance of the tournament against her most difficult opponent.
After being stretched to 9-7 and 7-5 third sets against less accomplished opponents in the two previous rounds, the No. 6 seed was on top of things from the get-go against No. 4 seed Kvitova.
“You can’t play a defending Wimbledon champion or Grand Slam champion and not elevate your game,” said Serena, who produced 27 winners and only 10 unforced errors. “I had to weed out the riffraff and just get serious.”
Kvitova had won 16 of her past 17 matches at Wimbledon, including 11 in a row since a loss to Serena in the 2010 semi-finals. Two days later, Serena went on to win the championship — her fourth at Wimbledon, her 13th at a Grand Slam tournament and her most recent to date.
Within a week, Serena cut her feet on glass at a restaurant, leading to a series of health problems, including being hospitalized for clots in her lungs, then the removal of a pocket of blood under the skin on her stomach.
“No one tries to have ups and downs. Some things happen sometimes and you have absolutely no control over it,” said Serena, whose only first-round loss in 48 Grand Slam tournaments came at the French Open in May. “So I think it’s how you recover from that and how you handle the downs even more than the ups can really [reveal your] character.”
Today, Serena is scheduled to play No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, the reigning Australian Open champion, who defeated unseeded Tamira Paszek 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) under the roof at night to reach the semi-finals for the second straight year.
The other semi-final sees No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland face No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany.
A little before 10 pm on Centre Court, Radwanska finished her 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 victory over No. 17 seed Maria Kirilenko — whose boyfriend, two-time NHL Most Valuable Player Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, was in the stands.
Earlier, the match was forced off Court One because of showers, tied 4-4 in the third set.