“I'm a big Victoria fan,” she said after the narrow Western & Southern Open loss. “Whenever I'm not at a tournament, I root for her. For me, I think she's just the ultimate competitor on the court and just really nice. She just leaves everything on the court and nothing personal, and everything off the court, she's just so, so professional and so nice. I mean, I really get along with her. She's just a great person.”
The top two players of that season, Williams and Azarenka took divergent paths in the two years that followed such that, by 2015, one was in hot pursuit of a Calendar Year Grand Slam while the other was working her way back from an extended period off court due to injuries.
Those circumstances meant the two were no longer meeting in finals, but rather for intense early-round scrimmages in both Madrid and Paris, where Williams would win in three sets.
Their quarterfinal Wimbledon clash came with added significance for Serena, who was not only undefeated at majors in 2015, but also three wins from a second “Serena Slam,” dating back to her 18th major win at the US Open the previous summer.
Where 2002-2003 was a masterclass of pace and precision, 2014-2015 saw Serena in her share of scraps, needing five three-setters to capture a third Roland Garros title two weeks earlier. Barring an epic meeting with home favorite Heather Watson, things had gone more smoothly at SW19, and she arrived in the last eight fresh off a decisive win over Venus.