Seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams overcame her toughest test at the All England Club so far in the last eight, battling past fellow American Alison Riske in a high-quality three set encounter to reach her 12th semifinal at the tournament.
After a shaky start to the tournament, Williams had looked much more impressive in her third and fourth round clashes, though was widely expected to have a much tougher match today against Riske, who had more wins on grass this season than anyone, and who had beaten world number one Ashleigh Barty in the previous round.
That certainly proved to be the case, though when Williams took the first set, it seemed as if she would ease through. However, Riske fought back to take the second set and broke straight away in the decider, though the 11th seed came through a tense decider in the end, sealing a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory in just over two hours to reach the semifinals
Williams fends off Riske to reach last four
The opening to the match was very tight, with Riske coming through a tight game to break for a 2-1 lead, and holding off some pressure to consolidate for 3-1. Williams fought back and herself came through a tight game to break back for 3-3, though some aggressive tennis from Riske saw her break again straight away. However, Williams began to dictate more frequently and broke for the second time, and after holding for 5-4 broke for the third time on her second set point to seal the opener.
The second set was just as evenly fought as the first, though there were fewer opportunities to break, with both impressing on serve and playing aggressive tennis on their service games. However, it was Riske who was applying the most pressure when returning, forcing Williams into a tight service hold at 3-3, and shortly after broke the seven-time champion to lead in the set for a first time, holding to love at 5-4 to send the match to her fifth consecutive three-set match at this tournament.
Riske broke straight away to start the decider, though Williams turned proceedings around and lead 3-1, 40-15, only to hand the break back to her compatriot, with Riske coming through a tight hold to level at 3-3. Williams, however, held firm, holding for 4-3 and applied enough pressure to force Riske to double fault when facing her fourth break point, with the 11th seed serving an ace on her first match point to progress.
It was a clean match for both women, with 25 winners to 18 unforced errors for Riske, but a staggering 49 winners to just 27 unforced errors for Williams. Last year’s runner-up is looking in fine form after there being doubts prior to the tournament, and she has booked a semifinal date against either Barbora Strycova or 19th seed Johanna Konta.