When Serena Williams followed Billie Jean King's Major age achievement



by JOVICA ILIC

When Serena Williams followed Billie Jean King's Major age achievement

The 23-time Major winner Serena Williams will not remember the 2021 season for good, struggling with injuries and entering only a couple of tournaments. Serena's best chance for the 24th Major crown came at the Australian Open in February, when she scored five victories to advance into the semis.

Competing at her 20th Australian Open, the 39-year-old was still capable of battling against the rivals from the top. The seven-time Melbourne winner advanced into the semi-final following a commanding 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Simona Halep in an hour and 21 minutes.

Thus, Serena continued where she left at the last year's US Open and remained in contention for that elusive 24th Major crown, the first since the Australian Open four years ago! Working hard during the off-season, Serena played her best tennis since becoming a mom in late 2017, storming over five opponents Down Under to sail into the last four.

Advancing to her 40th Major semi-final, Williams became the second Open era player to reach the final four at Majors after turning 39 following Billie Jean King at Wimbledon 1983! Serena's first Major semi-final came at the US Open 1999 when she won the title at 17, hoping for the same outcome in Melbourne over two decades later.

Serena lost only one set in five encounters, beating Laura Siegemund, Nina Stojanovic, Anastasia Potapova, Aryna Sabalenka and Simona Halep en route the last four and another Major achievement. Williams overpowered an in-form Sabalenka 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours and nine minutes to reach the Australian Open quarter-final 18 years after the first one.

Williams fired 30 winners and 26 unforced errors to overpower the Belarusian and pass the first serious obstacle in Melbourne. Both players scored four breaks from 20 chances overall, staying neck and neck and winning 94 points each!

Serena Williams is the second 39-year-old player in a Major semi-final.

Serena prevailed with a double break in the decider to seal the deal and oust the rival from the top. In the quarters, Simona dispatched world no. 2 Simona Halep 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 21 minutes, losing serve thrice and delivering six breaks to control the scoreboard.

Williams had 24 winners and 33 unforced errors, having the upper hand in the rallies and toppling the opponent in the shortest and most extended exchanges to sail into the semis. Defending nicely, Serena stuck to her gameplan and dictated the pace with sharp, well-placed strokes that Halep had no answer for.

The American held at love while leading 4-3 in the second set and grabbed a break at 30 with a forehand winner to move over the top and enter history books.

Serena Williams Billie Jean King Australian Open