Maria Sharapova of Russian Federation celebrates winning a game against Coco Vandeweghe of the United States during their singles match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Tuesday July 7, 2015.
Three consecutive aces at 4-2 in the third set moved her to within a game of victory and although 23rd seed Azarenka hung on and threatened to break back, Williams would not be denied and stayed on course for a 21st grand slam title. When it came time for Williams to serve for the set, she dropped a point, and then another.
In the other two matches on Court 1, Garbine Muguruza played Timea Bacsinszky, and Agnieszka Radwanska faced Madison Keys.
Azarenka knew she could trouble Williams, having taken her to three sets twice during the recent clay-court season and squandering three match points against the American in Madrid.
“It’s been up and down, up and down, but somehow I’m still alive”. The next game was the longest of the match, with the world number one putting everything she had into it and constantly hitting winners off Azarenka’s serve to set up break points. “We’ll see what happens, I’m just happy to be here”. After Monday’s match, she admitted her serves were not very big, but it was her consistency that made it possible for her to beat her big sister to go on to the quarterfinals.
“Centre Court is special”, she said. “I’ll have it for the rest of my life”. Overall Serena hit an impressive 17 aces, which compared to Azarenka’s 7 became an overwhelming factor in her win.
“I think they might have had a little too many glasses of Pimm’s or whatever”, she said in reference to the gin-based cocktail which is as closely associated with Wimbledon as strawberries and cream.
“I’m so exhausted of these questions all the time”, said Azarenka, a ex- top-ranked player from Belarus. She has dominated Sharapova in head to head matches, winning 17 of 19, including 16 in a row. Finally, Serena struck a crosscourt backhand that Azarenka couldn’t handle near the net, and Williams had the break for a 4-2 lead.
A subdued Williams saved two set points at 5-2 down but was left rooted to the baseline as Azarenka pocketed the opening set with another forehand victor at 5-3.
“I just thought, ‘Wow, I’m 33, and she just turned 35”. She played against Victoria Azarenka, who is making a huge statement after missing the majority of 2014 due to an injury.
The men’s quarterfinals are today: Novak Djokovic vs. Marin Cilic, Roger Federer vs. Gilles Simon, Andy Murray vs. Vasek Pospisil, and Stan Wawrinka vs. Richard Gasquet.
The duo’s relationship has remained frosty ever since, occasionally turning nasty – as it did when they traded barbs about Sharapova dating Williams’ ex-boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov and the American’s own relationship with her French coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
Azarenka continued to come up with groundstrokes of the highest order, but she was unable to reach a third semi-final at Wimbledon as Williams’ class and sheer will win to win shone through. The world no. 1 now faces Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals, who defeated Coco Vandeweghe in their semi-final.
“I like to believe and hope I can serve better”, said Williams.
Sharapova was playing in the quarterfinals at the All England Club for the first time in four years; for Vandeweghe, it was a Grand Slam first.