Serena Williams Turns Back Time at Australian Open

Serena Williams

Serena Williams Turns Back Time at Australian Open

Against Aryna Sabalenka, Williams called back to a much earlier phase of her career, well before she was the undisputed queen of her sport.

Serena Williams Turns Back Time at Australian Open – The New York Times

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Serena Williams Turns Back Time at Australian Open

Against Aryna Sabalenka, Williams called back to a much earlier phase of her career, well before she was the undisputed queen of her sport.

Serena Williams beat Aryna Sabalenka at the Australian Open after several times looking close to defeat.Credit…William West/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By

Feb. 14, 2021

MELBOURNE, Australia — Serena Williams became a time traveler on Sunday, pulled back to the past to essentially face down her much younger self.

Across the net from her in the fourth round of the Australian Open stood the 22-year-old Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who turned pro at 14, like Williams, and whose strategy called to mind Williams’s game plan at the same age: If at first you don’t succeed, hit harder.

Williams, 39, stared down Sabalenka, and after two gripping hours, Sabalenka blinked. In the 10th game of the deciding set, Sabalenka mustered one point on her serve as Williams, a seven-time champion, seized the break and a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory to set up a quarterfinal meeting with Simona Halep, who dispatched the 19-year-old Iga Swiatek in three sets.

Williams’s longevity makes it easy to forget that before she was the game’s grande dame, she was its whiz kid, collecting nine WTA singles titles, including one Grand Slam, before she was out of her teens.

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