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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I was out for revenge, says Serena

Photo Titled Serena serving
Serena Williams serves during her straight sets victory over Daniela Hantuchova.
Serena Williams admitted that the heavy defeat inflicted on her by Victoria Azarenka earlier this year in the Miami final did much to fuel her victory over the Belarusian in their Wimbledon quarter-final.

“I really wanted to do well today,” said Williams. “I didn’t do well last time we played. I was not feeling great. So I felt like I really wanted to show up today. When I was down a break 2-3 in the second set, I thought I had it coming because I had not been serving so well at the start of that set. I just had to pick up my level of play and relax and enjoy this wonderful moment.”

As has been the case practically from the start of the tournament, many observers are looking ahead and forecasting an all-Williams final. But Serena insists that no such thought has entered her head.

“No,” she declared. “Right now I’m just thinking about winning my next round, which is another tough match.”

That “next round” is, of course, the semi-final, against Elena Dementieva. The two of them met in SW19 six years ago, when Serena beat the Russian on the way to her second Wimbledon title. Williams says she has no memory of that match at all – she said she “plans to YouTube it tonight” - but she has plenty of other reference points.

“I’ve played her a lot in the last 12 months so I definitely know Elena’s game,” said Williams firmly. “She gets a lot of balls back and she’s a power player. It will be a really good match-up to me. She’s playing really well on the grass. She hasn’t been stretched too much in any of her matches either so she’s going undercover, you know, and bam.”

Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka was full of praise for Serena after today’s match, saying she had come up against the “unbeatable” version of the player.

“She’s a complete player,” Azarenka said of Serena. “She has every shot. She’s very strong mentally. She fights until the last moment. She just has the whole package, and it makes her a great champion.

“She didn’t give me many opportunities. She really showed the unbeatable Serena today. Her serve is harder to return on grass, and the groundstrokes are faster. But the game she played today would be good on any surface. She played amazing tennis.”

But what of the second set, when Azarenka led 3-2 with a break? Surely she failed to take that chance?

“That was the one time I had an opportunity,” agreed the Belarusian. “But I made a few mistakes and she kept pressuring me on my serve. I couldn’t really handle it well today.”

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