Serena Williams turns it up in third set to defeat Alison Riske, advance to Wimbledon semifinals

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports
United States' <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1132744/" data-ylk="slk:Serena Williams">Serena Williams</a> celebrates after winning a point against United States' Alison Riske during a women's quarterfinal match on day eight of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Tuesday, July 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
United States' Serena Williams celebrates after winning a point against United States' Alison Riske during a women's quarterfinal match on day eight of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Tuesday, July 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Serena Williams brought the heat late in a three-set battle against fellow American Alison Riske to move into the semifinals Tuesday at Wimbledon for a 12th time at the All England Club.

Williams won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in a two-hour back-and-forth affair against the unranked Riske, who has played three sets in every match this tournament. Williams had 19 aces, crushing the high of seven she had in earlier rounds.

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“I wouldn’t have won that match a couple of weeks ago,” Williams said during her post-match interview.

Riske starts strong vs. Serena

Riske, 29, said the key for her in the quarterfinals was to be tough and stay in each moment. It’s the farthest she’s made it in a Grand Slam.

“I think honestly the biggest key for me has just been to battle from start to finish of every match that I’ve been a part of.”

And she did. Riske started strong and despite losing a set or getting down in games, she never let Williams gain too much ground.

She gained a 3-1 first-set lead by winning four of seven first-serve points. Williams then won seven of 10 points to tie it up at 3-3, and eventually taking it all.

Williams struggled with her backhand late in the second set, allowing Riske to even it at 4-4 and then take her first lead since midway through the first. After the trainer put more tape on Williams’ right ankle, Riske won the next four set points to even it a set apiece again at 5-5. The Pittsburgh native went on to force a final set.

“She honestly was playing so great,” Williams said post-match. “She beat so many great players. She was really so close to taking the win today.”

Riske took out No. 1 ranked Ashleigh Barty on Monday during the round of 16.

Williams fires up in third set

Williams turned up the fire in the final set, both with her racket and her passion. She crossed Riske on a powerful smash that felt as if momentum fully shifted to her and broke her serve three times.

The 37-year-old champion moved her counterpart around the court and found the wide open space to close out the match and advance.

She said post-match she realized she had nothing to lose, just as Riske didn’t, and began playing better.

Riske had one ace throughout and 18 unforced errors to Williams’ 27. Riske won five of five break points and won more first serves.

Williams moves past King in record book

The first set win was notable for Williams, who is chasing records all over the place. It was her 197th set win, pushing her past tennis great Billie Jean King for singles sets won at The Championships. She’s now third all time.

Williams will play two more mixed-doubles matches with Andy Murray before the semifinals on Thursday. She’ll face either Barbora Strycova or Johanna Kanta.

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