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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Serena sweeps into third round

Photo Titled Serena supreme
Serena Williams on the way to her comfortable win over Australian Jarmila Groth.

The Williams sisters have always regarded the Grand Slam circuit as very much a family affair: Venus wins with startling regularity at Wimbledon and Serena wins pretty much everywhere else. There may be another 126 women in the draw but the Williams sisters have eyes only for each other: What is big sis up to? How is little sis looking?

This Wimbledon is no different and after Venus laid down her marker as the defending champion on Tuesday, Serena did likewise in the second round.

As is her way, Serena is slowly going through the gears as the tournament progresses. In the second round, she was in second gear and yet it was more than enough to deal with the challenge of Jarmila Groth 6-2, 6-1. Williams was strong, determined and focused while Groth was inexperienced, inaccurate and totally out of her depth.

In the past six months alone, Williams has earned more than Groth has in a lifetime and, in pursuit of her third Wimbledon title and her 11th Grand Slam title in all, she looked in no mood to offer her Slovak opponent a pay rise.

Not much is going Groth’s way at the moment. She was born in Bratislava but she did not stay there for long. Heading to Australia to train as a junior, she fell in love with the country, the people and the way of life. She also fell in love with Sam Groth, another tennis player who is as Australian as cold beer, hot sunshine and fabulous beaches. And, dear reader, she married him.

It was a bit like taking on a battleship armed only with a feather duster

Alas, getting an Australian passport is not as easy as it looks and the immigration service demands that new applicants can prove that they have lived in the land down under for nine or 10 months of the year – and that they have done so for several years in succession.

Unfortunately for Mrs Groth, she is seldom in any one place for more than a couple of weeks at a time because of the itinerant lifestyle of a professional tennis player. The WTA Tour lists her as Slovakian; the Wimbledon draw sheet lists her as Australian.

Her game appeared to be in almost as much disarray as her paperwork as she took on Williams. To tackle a serial champion like Williams on a show court at Wimbledon is hard enough but to do it with an error to winner ratio of 48 (forced and unforced) to nine is a bit like taking on a battleship armed only with a feather duster. Just for good measure, Groth also racked up 10 double faults – this was not pretty to watch.

Williams, then, is safely through to the third round. Like all those who make a habit of winning the titles that matter, she tends to divide the Grand Slams up into two halves: the first week is not for playing your best but merely for surviving; the second week is for turning on the power and pushing forward to the silverware.

So far, she is half-way through the first half and looking good for a place in the second week. And that is when the family fun really starts.

Court 1 - Ladies' Singles - 2nd Round
Jarmila Groth AUS 21
Serena Williams USA (2)Winner66

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