Wimbledon | Serena survives strong French challenge
SERENA Williams could achieve the greatest triumph of her glittering career should she lift the Venus Rosewater Dish at Wimbledon for an eighth time on Saturday week.
Surprised myself? I’ve worked really hard. Been a long arduous road. Always expect to do the best I can do. That’s all I hope for Serena Williams
The suggestion came as the 36-year-old American superstar, seeded 25 after returning from maternity proved again that mum is the word, with a 7-5 7-6(2) victory over unseeded French player Kristina Mladenovic.
And former Grand Slam champion Tracy Austin backed her to lift the crown with the draw opening up ever wider for her saying: “I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Williams, who meets world No.120 Evgeniya Rodina, who stunned tenth seed Madison Keys earlier, in the last 16, is in confident mood.
She said: “Every opponent plays their A game but I’m ready for anyone. I’m happy.
“Surprised myself? I’ve worked really hard. Been a long arduous road. Always expect to do the best I can do. That’s all I hope for.”
Serena survived two break points in the opening game to hold after suffering a code violation for being too slow to start serving before the match had even started.
And she had three more break points to save in the fifth game. She managed to claw back one but not a second as Mladenovic sealed the break.
And in the eighth game, the American superstar had to serve to save the set.
She held to love with her booming serve and broke back and then moved 6-5 ahead before sealing the lead.
Her French opponent refused to go away, showing how her confidence had increased since failing to win one singles match from last August to this February.
The former world top-tenner stood toe-to-toe against the intimidating personality on the other side of the net.
She saved a match point at 5-6 to force a tie-break before 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena secured the win.