On centre court at Wimbledon, Serena Williams reminded us once again why she is the greatest female tennis player of all time. Williams defeated the home crowd favourite Heather Watson 62 46 75 after being down not only a double break in the third set, but also down a break at 45. Williams pulled off one of the greatest escapes of all time.
Before all the drama, it appeared this was going to be a straightforward win for Williams. She took the first set with relative ease, a rarity for her nowadays.
The second set is where things got complicated for Williams. Watson upped her game and kept Williams on the run forcing her out of her comfort zone. Behind the home crowd support on Centre Court, the Brit was able to break Williams and evened the match, taking the second set.
Playing a third set is nothing new for the world’s #1 as of late. At the French Open, Williams played in five 3-set matches on her way to hoisting the trophy. In four of those matches Williams lost the first set and was forced to come from behind. The one 3-set match at Roland Garros where she was pushed to a third was in the final against Lucie Safarova. In that match Williams came out flat in the opening of the third set, which is exactly what happened today against Watson as well.
Watson started the third set not only breaking Williams once, but then twice to go up 30. The British crowd was loving what they saw. Henman Hill outside Centre Court adjacent to Court 1 was filled to capacity all watching and anticipating Watson, a Brit, to pull off the shocking upset.
What happened next can be described as intense filled action. Williams, like in the French Open final, eventually found her game and began to fight back. Watson had points for a 40 lead, but Williams fought them off and broke the Brit to get one break back after a ten and a half minute service game.
In Williams’ next service game she held with ease to bring the match back to 32. The pressure was growing on Watson even more now and it began to truly show. Watson was up 40-0 in her service game, but ended up being broken and the match was evened up.
Both players then exchanged holds before Watson broke Williams at love to lead 5-4. The Centre Court crowd and Henman Hill erupted, the finish line was insight for the young Brit.
Williams, however, like many times in the past did not crumble; she broke Watson yet again to even the match at 5-all. Williams followed the break with a hold and then put the pressure on the Brit. The finish line was now improbably in Williams’ sight.
Watson fought valiantly to to hold her serve, but Williams was too determined and too much for Watson. Centre Court was quieted for a moment before they gathered themselves to acknowledge and appreciate what they just witnessed.
All credit to Watson who played a terrific match, but for a lot of the match it was Williams versus herself. She had 33 unforced errors which got her in a lot of trouble, but thankfully she had an astounding 53 winners along with 13 aces.
Throughout the third set, Williams was doing a lot more shrieking than she normally, proving how much she could feel the weight of the significance of the match.
With the win Williams keeps her hopes of holding the title of each grand slam, and of course the chance at the calendar slam. The win also keeps Williams’ chances of winning another grand slam alive moving one step closer to Steffi Graf’s open era record of 22 grand slams. Williams is currently at 20.
For Williams to achieve all this she has a tough road ahead of her. Her next match is against her sister, Venus. Following that she could potentially have to go through Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, and then Petra Kvitova. If she is to win Wimbledon she will earn it.
For today though, Williams survives a huge scare and is lucky just to fight another day.
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