Not without some drama (of course!), Serena Williams advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals today, defeating our favorite willowy headcase Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-2. This sets up what in many minds is the de facto final against Justine Henin, a rematch of the French Open quarterfinals, which saw Henin clobber a flat, meek Williams.
Judging by today, I don’t really expect a repeat of that result. Down 5-6 in the second set, Williams fell to the ground screaming, experiencing cramping in her calf that was later suggested to be a muscle strain. Williams managed to hold serve and force a tiebreak, only to go down 2-4 before (miraculously!) the rains came, causing yet another interruption in what has been a ludicrously wet Wimbledon.
When play resumed, Williams came out wearing totally ugly warm-up pants and, though losing the second set, came back ferociously to take the third and the match. I don’t know how this woman does it, consistently defying all odds and reason and coming out victorious time and again. Seriously, she was basically playing on ONE LEG and she’s able to gut out a win? Unbelievable. She may not be the most, oh, loveable athlete out there, but there’s no denying the immense reserve of will and fight in her body (even her parents were telling her to quit!), which has won her countless matches and tournaments she should have lost, which is damn admirable in my book. And she always gives good narrative. Henin better hope that Serena comes out missing an arm as well.