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Serena Williams comes back from a set down to reach the Wimbledon semifinals and set up Julia Goerges clash

  • Serena Williams came back from a set down to beat Camila Giorgi 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon
  • Williams will face Julia Goerges, who beat Kiki Bertens 3-6, 7-5, 6-1
Serena Williams celebrates beating Camila Giorgi in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon 2018 (OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Serena Williams dropped her first set of the tournament but rose to the challenge to book her place in the semifinals of Wimbledon 2018.


The 23-time Grand Slam champion, who is on a quest for her eighth Wimbledon title, had not lost a set through the first four rounds at The Championships but had to come back from a set down against hard-hitting Italian Camila Giorgi. 

Williams’s 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory put her into the semifinals at Wimbledon for the eleventh time, where she will face Julia Goerges on Thursday.

Camila Giorgi  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Goerges, who has lost in the first round of Wimbledon on her last five appearances, also came back from a set down to defeat former French Open semifinalist Kiki Bertens 3-6, 7-5, 6-1. 

The other semifinal will be between former world no. 1 Angelique Kerber, runner-up at Wimbledon in 2016 and the highest seed remaining in the draw, and 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko after both won their quarterfinal matches in straight sets.

Scheduled second on Centre Court, Williams was playing matches on back-to-back days for the first time in quite some time – the American is playing just her fourth event of the season after having given birth to her daughter last September – and there were concerns about fitness and fatigue, particularly after her body broke down after playing both singles and doubles to reach the fourth round of the French Open with a pectoral injury aborting her scheduled blockbuster against Maria Sharapova.

But Williams looked in great shape and it was her opponent, rather than any physical issues, which gave the 23-time major champion brief pause on Centre Court before she raised her game in inimitable Serena fashion.

Currently ranked world no. 56, well above Williams’s current ranking of world no. 181, 26-year-old Giorgi is at once a known and an unknown quantity. The Italian, not the tallest or strongest but with every inch of her frame, especially the upper body, packed with muscle, has a very simple game plan: She attacks every ball and tries to hit it for a winner as hard and as flat as she can. That’s the ‘known’ part of the equation. The ‘unknown’ is how many of them are going to land in.

Playing in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, Giorgi was by no means paralysed by nerves. She took advantage of Williams’s one lapse on serve to break and closed out the set confidently, enjoying good fortune on her own serve, which has an unfortunate tendency to double faults (she hit six today, for a payoff of six aces). She even had 0-30 on Williams’s serve with the American serving at 0-1 in the second. 

Serena Williams (OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
The task was simple for Williams: Raise her level and keep it high, and trust that Giorgi could not stick with her. And so it proved. Digging herself out of that 0-30 hole for 1-1 – helped by a calamitous Giorgi miss on a short ball - Williams broke in the next game and steadily improved her serve throughout the remaining two sets. She broke early in the third, too, and ended the match with seven aces, zero double faults and an improvement in all areas of her serving: In the first set, she landed 67% of first serves, won 75% behind them and 83% behind second serve. By the third set, she was serving at 78% and winning 89% and 80% behind first and second serves respectively. Not jaw-dropping margins, but hugely significant in a staccato power battle like this one. 

Williams seemed energized rather than drained by the one-hour, 42-minute battle and told the BBC:

‘Every time I play Giorgi she always plays to this level, but she does it against everyone, which is pretty impressive. So I knew it wouldn’t be an easy match. I wasn’t surprised by the first set. I don’t know what I did. I just thought, ‘all right, let’s go three sets’. Just keep fighting. 

‘I feel good about my game,’ Williams continued. ‘I did better in this match – I had to – but it’s only my fourth tournament back. I don’t feel pressure. I don’t feel I have to win. I feel like I’m back but I still have a long way to go.’

It will be the second Grand Slam at which Williams faces Goerges, who lost to her just a few weeks ago at the French Open. 

Julia Goerges (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
In a semifinal lineup which features three players who have won major titles (two of them more than one), Goerges is the outlier. Before this week, the German had lost all five of her previous fourth-round matches at one of tennis’s showcase events, and had not got near doing as well as that in previous years, coming into this year’s Championships on a five-match losing streak In Wimbledon matches. 

But Goerges, for a long time considered an underachiever, has revitalized her singles career over the past 18 months, reaching five WTA Tour finals in 2017 (winning two of them) and breaking into the top 10 earlier this year. In Kiki Bertens, she faced a fellow first-time quarterfinalist, as well as a good friend and former doubles partner; but Bertens had the distinct experience advantage of having made a Grand Slam semifinal before at the 2016 French Open. 

Many fancied Bertens, who had beaten Venus Williams and Karolina Pliskova to reach the quarterfinals as well as allowing Goerges just three games in their last meeting in the final of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, to be the victor and the Dutch player was the smarter and more solid in the first set, looking very comfortable on grass as she survived a barrage of Goerges winners to lead 7-5. 

Goerges hit her stride in the second set, building a 4-1 lead with a purple patch of untouchable serving brilliance, only for Bertens to steady the ship, save set points and level at 5-5. But it’s a truism that the braver player, the one more willing to go for their shots and take risks, is generally the winner when it comes to grass-court tennis in general and Wimbledon in particular, and Goerges was that player throughout the match. She nabbed the last two games of the set to level the match and then ran away with in the second, racing through to her first Wimbledon semifinal with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory.

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Serena Williams comes back from a set down to reach the Wimbledon semifinals and set up Julia Goerges clash

Serena Williams continues her journey towards becoming the lowest-seeded Wimbledon champion of all time as she came back from a set down against Camila Giorgi to set up a semifinal against Julia Goerges

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