With early upsets, could Serena Williams go all the way?
Bye Bye Top Seeds
We’re to the semifinal rounds at The All England Club. So how did the top seeds fare in the first few rounds at Wimbledon? Let’s take a quick look:
Defending Wimbledon champion and No. 3 seed Garbine Muguruza? Defeated in second round 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 by Alison Van Uytvanck.
No. 1 seed Simona Halep? Upset in the third round with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 loss to Su-Wei Hsieh.
And No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki? Yep. Defeated in second round by Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
But there’s one extremely familiar name still around and we’re not talking about Jelena Ostapenko.
Serena Williams is one of four female tennis players still left chasing down serves on the grass in England.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner gave us a glimmer of the pre-motherhood Serena, when she dug deep and defeated unseeded Italian Camila Giorgi 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a quarterfinal comeback. It’s a sight tennis hasn’t seen at all this season after Williams didn’t make an appearance in Australia, pulled out of Paris with an injury and had early exits at Indian Wells and Miami.
You’re probably thinking pre-motherhood Serena? She would have handled an unseeded Italian in two sets. Possibly. But she’s in her fourth tournament since a 16-month maternity leave. So even if it were an injury, a hiatus or a time to find herself that Serena had taken, this run would still be impressive.
She’ll play German Julia Goerges in Williams’ 11th appearance in the semifinals at The All England Club. Goerges is the 13th seed but is quite the semifinal story herself. She also came back from a set down in her quarterfinal match against Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1. This is her first semifinal appearance.
Fellow German Angelique Kerber, the former world No. 1, will face Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko. They both won their semifinal matches in straight sets. Kerber won 6-3, 7-5 against No. 14 seed Daria Kasatkina. Ostapenko defeated Slovak Dominika Cibulkova, 7-5, 6-4.
And Then There Were Four
There are quite a few scenarios that could go down, but the least likely is probably Goerges upsetting Williams and facing Angelique Kerber. (Although we wouldn’t be surprised if Kerber is in the finals.) If Goerges were to upset Williams and Kerber were to make the finals too, it would be the first-ever, all-German women’s Grand Slam final. That’s pretty cool, but still not highly likely.
That’s because while Ostapenko reached the semifinals at Wimbledon for the first time, she did so without dropping a set. (She came close in the fourth round when her first set went to a tiebreak.)
It’s also likely not possible because in the last three meetings against Williams, Goerges has never defeated her, including last month at the French Open.
And if Kerber defeats Ostapenko, she’s played second fiddle to Williams before, in 2016.
As for Williams, she returned to competitive tennis in March. And with all of the early exits (seeds No. 1-10 are all gone from the draw), Williams hasn’t faced a player ranked in the top 50.
The Underdog Angle
While we love a good underdog story, in her last 10 trips to The All England Club, Goerges has only won five matches. None of those came in the past five years. Although, that is all before this last fairytale week.
But it’d be unfair to say that just because Williams owns 23 Grand Slam crowns that she also isn’t a somewhat underdog. She is currently 181st in the rankings, which is the lowest-ranked player to ever reach a women’s semifinal at Wimbledon.
A victory in the next two rounds, though, would tie her with Margaret Court’s 24 Grand Slam titles.
While she was away, the one thing Williams made very clear was that …she wanted to win.
What do Kim Clijsters, Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Margaret Court all have in common? They’re major-winning moms. If Williams were to win, she’d become the fourth mom to win a major.
While she was away, the one thing Williams made very clear was that she wasn’t going to rush back to a tournament just to play or compete. She wanted to win. After disappointments at Indian Wells and Miami, she hit her training hard to get in shape for the French Open. That didn’t work out when she withdrew before her match against Maria Sharapova.
But it’s hard to bet against her. Just like in the last decade and a half, she is the player to beat.