In their first ever meeting, Serena Williams and fellow American Alison Riske got acquainted over each other’s excellent grass-court games for three captivating sets. In the end, as you might expect, it was the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, rather than the first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, who prevailed—6-4, 4-6, 6-3—to advance to her 11th Wimbledon semifinal. She’s now 97-11 at the All England Club.
"It was really satisfying," said Serena. "I wouldn't have won that match a couple of weeks ago. Every match here has really helped me and really counted.
"She was really so close to taking the win today."
It wasn’t easy for Serena, who was broken by Riske five times on Tuesday. The fearless 29-year-old from Pittsburgh had rallied to win after losing the first set in three of her previous four Wimbledon matches, but this third set was one decider too many. Despite losing the first set, Riske kept the pressure on, and was rewarded with a break in the 10th game of the second set to send the match to a third.
Serena led 3-1, 40-15 in the third set, but was broken by her relentless opponent. But instead of being rattled, Serena settled down, breaking Riske back at 4-3 for a lead she wouldn’t let slip.
"I lost my serve a few times; being up 40-15 [at 3-1 in the third set] I lost my serve," said Serena. "It meant even more to close it out when I was up 40-15."
All in all, the seven-time Wimbledon champion fired 18 aces and 48 winners en route to the victory.
Up next for the 23-time Grand Slam champion is either crowd favorite Johanna Konta, who upset two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, or Barbora Strycova. Serena and Konta have split their two previous meetings, with Konta winning the most recent—a lopsided first rounder in San Jose. Against Strycova, the 37-year-old leads their head-to-head series, 3-0.