July 9, 2019
Serena Williams pumped her fists in fiery triumph as she finally overcame the very real threat from Alison Riske.
The final scoreline of 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 doesn’t truly reflect the intensity that was required for Serena to prevail in the decider.
There was a time, particularly towards the end of the second set, when Riske was the one on fire.
It was almost as though her former US Secret Service father, Albert had hatched a plot to undo Williams.
‘Lull her into a false sense of security. Lose the first set like you usually do. Then unleash the real Alison.’
She normally wins in three. But the occasion began to get to her on the big points. Double faults at key moments proved her undoing.
Williams added pressure with her fierce returns and almost contemptuous dispatching of her opponent’s second serves.
And Serena feels that she is on an upward surge. Improving physically with every match. Edging nearer to her goal. Riske now successfully taken.
Serena said later: ‘It was really satisfying, I wouldn’t have won that match a couple of weeks ago and she was so close to winning today.
‘I was really pumped reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon, that doesn’t happen every day. It has been a long, arduous road.’
Well it does happen quite often. Just about every summer, if not every day. But Serena knows that time is against her now.
She knows this might be her last chance to equal Margaret Court’s 24 Grand Slam titles.
Her lateral movement will have to improve even more if she is going to take the Wimbledon title one more time.
Sometimes she was stranded. Other times she even fell awkwardly. But she never gave up and received her reward in the end.
Who can stop Serena? Barbora Strycova will be first to try after she turned the tables on Jo Konta.
The nervous Brit was 4-1 up in the first set before her forehand began to misfire and she made 22 unforced errors to lose that opener in a tie-break.
By the end it was 34. The legendary John McEnroe said: ‘Jo got away from her own game plan. It was amazing how many unforced errors she made.
‘I thought she would learn more from what had happend in the previous couple of years.
‘It was disappointing to just see her fall to pieces after she had that led in the first.’
This was a brutal assessment, but also accurate based on what we saw.
The Czech took complete control in the second set to win 6-1 and book her semi-final against Williams.
‘It sounds crazy but it is really happening,’ said an ecstatic Strycova later.
But you would still back Serena to win through to another Wimbledon final. Barbora has never beaten her.
Simona Halep is definitely a contender to beat Serena, if she too can reach the showpiece.
Halep is playing better than ever this year at Wimbledon.
You might not have thought so when she was trailing badly to Shuai Zhang in their first set.
‘I kept fighting, even though I was 4-1 down,’ said Halep, who is clearly delighted with her own feisty spirit.
She won through by taking a similar route, bossing a first-set tie-break 7-4 and then steam-rollering her own opponent 6-1 in the second.
Halep will play Elina Svitolina, who delighted her watching boyfriend, Gael Monfils with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Karolina Muchova.
The eighth seed is bidding to become the first Ukrainian woman to reach the final and both semis should be cracking matches on Thursday.