Williams ups her game for Kvitova
Tennis:A pre-match pep talk from dad Richard and sister Venus inspired Serena Williams to send defending champion Petra Kvitova packing from Wimbledon at the quarter-final stage. The four-time champion turned on the style on her debut under the Centre Court roof, at times almost bullying Kvitova in a 6-3 7-5 win.
With a brutal serve as her platform — she sent down 13 aces and won 86 per cent of her first-serve points — she was able to hit 27 winners in what was easily her outstanding performance of the tournament so far.
She will await the winner of the match between Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka and Austria's Tamira Paszek which was ongoing on Centre Court this evening. Azarenka can take top spot in the rankings this week, as can Pole Agnieszka Radwanska, who was up against Maria Kirilenko this evening, before play was suspended at one set all and four games apiece in the final set.
Their match will conclude on Centre Court this evening and the winner will face Angelique Kerber of Germany, who beat compatriot Sabine Lisicki in three sets on Centre Court. Kerber won 6-3, 6-7 (7-9), 7-5 to book a place in the semi-finals for the first time.
Prior to today Williams had shown brilliance in patches but also flirted with defeat. Losing did not appear to be an option against the Czech, though, and she credited some words of wisdom from her nearest and dearest, as well as coach Patrick Mouratoglou, as being the catalyst.
“I had a good talk with my dad, he motivated me, and my sister as well,” she said. “I had a talk with Patrick too. It was great. All three of those got me really motivated to do better and be the player that I know I can be. I just took to heart what everyone said. I really prayed about it, just to have calmness of mind and just go forward and do the best I can do, whether that’s winning or losing.”
Williams was not willing to share what was said in those conversations, adding: “They’re secrets I want to keep.”
The dethroned Kvitova makes Williams the clear favourite to take the title in Saturday’s final. The 22-year-old fourth seed had been relatively untroubled before today, but all that changed when she ran into one of the most formidable roadblocks in women’s tennis — an on-song Williams.
“I think so,” Kvitova said, when asked if Williams was now the tip to win the tournament. “I think I didn’t play badly, but she just served very well and that was the big difference. I can’t say it’s impossible to beat her because she’s human, but I think that’s why she is a great champion, because she knows what she needs to play the important points.
“I think it’s really tough to beat her.”
The last of Williams’ 13 grand slam singles titles came at Wimbledon two years ago. But, despite her exceptional conversion rate of reaching finals from the last four — she has only lost one of seven semis in London — she is not contemplating adding to that statistic just yet.
“I don’t think about it,” the American said. “I just think about doing the best I can. I still have hopefully two more matches to play and win. That’s my goal.”
The 30-year-old also had sympathy for the departing champion. After winning her first grand slam at the 1999 US Open, Williams was unable to defend it the year after, also losing at the quarter-final stage.
“It’s not easy to defend a title,” she said. “I didn’t win when I defended my first major. But she did great. She held herself in ultimate class and played her heart out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her play so well.”