Serena Williams: anything is possible!

 - Alix Ramsay

To win Wimbledon would give the American that 24th Grand Slam trophy that she has been chasing.

Scream from Serena Williams at Wimbledon 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Amid the upset and mayhem of the first eight days of The Championships – seeds losing, big names taking the first flight home – one constant remains.

A certain Serena Williams, a former champion of this parish, is homing in on the final. Like she always used to do. Like we always expected her to do. Barbora Strycova, all 5ft 5ins of her, stands between the mighty Serena and the final and Serena, all 23 Grand Slam titles of her, does not look in the mood to be thwarted.

Rage and fist pump for Serena Williams at Wimbledon 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Frustated at practice

She had to fight for all she was worth to get the better of Alison Riske 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Tuesday but that in itself was sight to behold. We have not seen that side of the living legend in more than six months.

Struggling with that chronic knee problem of hers for most of the year, she has not been physically capable of fighting and, instead, she has faded away on the few occasions she has actually got on court. But now the knee is holding up, the final is coming into focus and Serena is back in business.

The very fact that she got angry, threw her racket and damaged one of the outside courts during practice – and got fined $10,000 for it – was a positive sign. If she is getting that frustrated in practice, she must be feeling better. The old perfectionist is back in town. And that means the old Serena is here to play.


Serena Williams lyong on the grass at Wimbledon 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

A million miles

“I just needed to just fight,” Serena said of her win over Riske. “Alison, I mean, she played great throughout the whole tournament. She's beaten so many amazing players, players that have had great years.

“She was not giving it to me. I needed to step up and take it. That's what I had to do.”

From the starting point of her staccato first round performance to her current position in the last four seems like a million miles. In the beginning, she was not moving well, she was not playing particularly well but she was just about getting through.

On Tuesday, she was roaring herself on; game face in place, fist clenched in defiance as she battled her way to the victory – this was the champion we have seen so many times over the years. It has been quite a transformation in just a matter of days.


Serena Williams powers a forehand at Wimbledon 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

"I do know I feel good"

“I haven't had a tremendous amount of time to prepare for this. But, you know, like I said in the beginning of this tournament, each and every match for me has to count as, like, five or ten matches because I have not played a lot.
This is the first time since Australia that I actually felt, like, good,” she said. “It's been a really, really long year for me already, and hard year, because I'm usually not typically injured.

“I don't know where I am [in terms of fitness]. I do know I feel good. Now that I feel good, I can actually focus on training and technique and practice, something that I just literally haven't been able to do a lot of.”

To win Wimbledon would give her that 24th Grand Slam trophy that she has been chasing since she came back from maternity leave last year. Two major finals have come and gone and still she has not claimed that one title that would put her level with Margaret Court. As this year, with all its injury woes, has gone on, she has looked less and less likely to reach the magic 24th.

But now that she is fit again, anything seems possible. 

Serena Williams screaming out of joy and relief at Wimbledon 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

How many Slams once the tournament is over?

“I believe in myself,” she said, simply. “I believe if I'm feeling well, I can be a big competitor in a sport that I love and I've done so well at. So just the key word is getting fit and getting back into match play injury-free.

“So now that I am, I can kind of actually start to, like I say, just play tennis. That has been literally something that I have not been able to do all year.”

No amount of experience can take away the thrill of walking through the club house and out on to Centre Court. Serena has done it countless times but each time, it gives her a buzz. It is the buzz that tells her she is about to do something secial.

“I get excited because I know that it's going to be another opportunity to just do what I do best,” she said.

If she does that, who knows how many Grand Slam titles she will have once the tournament is over.