Serena roars after Barty killer battle

 

Serena Williams has survived a huge scare to defeat Alison Riske in a nailbiter and advance to the Wimbledon semi-finals for the 12th time.

Williams wasn't at her best but still had enough weapons in her arsenal to crush Riske's Wimbledon fairytale with a 6-3 4-6 6-3 victory.

Before today Williams had only dropped one set all tournament in a relatively cruisy run to the quarters but there was nothing easy about the challenge she faced from her former doubles partner, who left everything out on the court in a display that won her plenty of fans, if not the match.

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After sending down an ace on match point, Williams raised her arms, then brought them down to her side and roared as she erupted with emotion.

"It was really satisfying, I wouldn't have won that match a week ago," Williams said.

"She was playing so great, she beat so many great players and, oh my god, she was so close to taking the win today.

"I was really pumped, obviously it was for a place in the semis in Wimbledon and that doesn't happen everyday.

"I was really pumped."

"I think it really counted today," Williams added of her big match experience. "I had to button up and play hard. She was playing her heart out, she had nothing to lose and I realised I didn't either."

Bizarrely, Williams' hair attracted plenty of attention, with many on social media linking her improved performance in the third set to the moment she tied her hair up in a bun.

Asked about it in the post-match press conference, Williams said: "Well, today it (my hair) was just in my way, and the wind ... I was missing a shot because it's in my face.

"I was like, 'This is not happening'. I just needed to get it out of the way, put the business bun up and just get to business."

 

 

 

 

 

Did Serena’a hairstyle change help her win?
Did Serena’a hairstyle change help her win?

Riske, having reached the final eight of a grand slam for the first time in her career, came out swinging in the same way she finished her match against Ash Barty when she upset the Aussie world No. 1 in three sets in their round of 16 clash on Manic Monday.

The 29-year-old wasn't going to be Williams roadkill like so many of her peers have been over the course of the American superstar's career and she more than held her own in baseline rallies as she hit with great depth to start the match and wasn't afraid to come to the net.

Twice Riske went up a break in the opening set but Williams showed even when she's not in the greatest form she's a force to be reckoned and bounced back each time Riske looked to be getting the upper hand.

Williams clinched the first set in 37 minutes with a break of her own and started the second in more imposing fashion. She was finding more rhythm and power in her ground strokes but even as she became more comfortable Riske refused to fold.

The set went on serve and at 3-3 Williams faced a serious threat when Riske took her to deuce but she was able to hold, letting out roars of encouragement after key points.

Riske held serve easily to make it 4-4 then dragged Williams to the brink the next game by breaking for the first time in the set. Williams received treatment on her right angle during the changeover, with a trainer applying strapping to the area.

 

 

Riske pounced, serving out the next game to love to send the match into a decider. She carried on her stellar form by breaking Williams in the opening game of the third set but that only fired the tennis legend up and she broke right back at 1-1.

Every time Riske looked like seizing the initiative Williams stood her ground, proving there was life in her yet. Riske's biggest blue of the set came when she double faulted to gift her opponent a break and a 3-1 lead.

Williams let out several cries of "c'mon" in her next service game but they were said with head down and fist clenched. Rather than trying to rev up the crowd, she was trying to steel herself during the toughest time of her Wimbledon campaign to date.

But the self-motivation couldn't help her hold in the face of a determined onslaught from Riske, who won four straight points from 15-40 down to bring the set back on serve.

The world No. 55 suffered a nervy moment when she double faulted again to give Williams a sniff but she composed herself to level things up at 3-3 in the third.

Williams knew she needed to go up a gear and she started thumping her backhand with more venom. The 11th seed pushed Riske deeper and deeper in the court and gave herself two break points but Riske fought back to bring things to deuce at 3-4.

Nobody could land the killer blow but when Williams brilliantly anticipated a volley to her right after Riske returned a drop shot, and the unseeded star served up another double fault, Williams secured the vital break and went up 5-3.

There was no more fight left in Riske as Williams sealed the win with an ace after two hours and one minute on court.

Riske was making Williams earn every point.
Riske was making Williams earn every point.