Serena Williams composed herself after a first-set loss and a burst of anger that made her smash her racket, to beat tenacious fellow American Christina McHale in a tense second-round match at Wimbledon on Friday.
The defending champion finally ran out a 6-7 (9-7) 6-2 6-4 winner against the world No.65 on Centre Court, marching on in her quest to emulate Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 grand slam singles titles.
Williams thought she had won the first set and was walking back to her chair after a McHale forehand was called long with the world No.1 5-4 and 40-30 up.
To her chagrin, however, a Hawkeye challenge showed the ball brushing the baseline.
McHale went on to win the game and force a tiebreak in which a rattled Williams made a string of errors, including two double faults, before burying a forehand into the net to lose the set.
Furious as she sat down, she repeatedly hammered her racket into the ground in frustration before hurling it behind her.
“I was just really, really, really angry. I had a lot of chances,” Williams told reporters after the match, adding that she would “definitely” be fined.
“I’ve cracked a number of rackets throughout my career. I’ve gotten fined a number of times for cracking rackets,” she said.
“I don’t want to go too long without cracking a racket. You know, I’m on track. I try to crack a certain amount a year. I’m a little behind this year, so it was good.”
The 34-year-old put the disappointment of the tiebreak behind her and showed the battling form that has won her six Wimbledon crowns to take the next two sets, closing out the two-and-a-half hour match with three aces.
Experience wrestled aside youth when Venus Williams, at 36 the oldest woman in the draw, overcame a match-point rain break and tenacious Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina to reach the fourth round.
Kasatkina, 19, demonstrated clearly how she has leapt 128 places up the rankings in the last year, saving two match points, one after a lengthy rain stoppage, before going down 7-5 4-6 10-8.
Hopes of a British woman reaching Wimbledon’s third round were extinguished on Friday when wildcard Tara Moore was beaten by 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1 2-6 6-3.
Moore, ranked 227th, had topped her previous Wimbledon best by even making it past the first round and looked like she was going to pull off an unlikely victory over the former U.S. and French Open champion when she stormed through the second set.
But the Russian prevailed, breaking early in the third set before pulling away for the win in front of a boisterous Court Three home crowd desperate for something to cheer after a tough day of rain delays.