Serena Williams Beats Alison Riske in Thriller, Advances to Wimbledon Semi-Final

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2019

US player Serena Williams reacts after winning a game against US player Alison Riske during their women's singles quarter-final match on day eight of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 9, 2019. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE        (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

Serena Williams' hopes of a 24th Grand Slam title and eighth Wimbledon crown are intact after she beat Alison Riske 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in a thrilling quarter-final on Tuesday.

Despite being down a break twice in the first set, Williams was able to fight back and take the opener, applying pressure to Riske in the latter stages. But Riske clung on and played some sparkling tennis to draw level in the second set.

In the third, both players struggled for consistency on their service games before Williams stepped up in the latter stages to clinch a spot in the last four.

After her victory on Centre Court, Williams will take on the winner of the match between Barbora Strycova and Johanna Konta on Thursday in the semi-finals. 

After tidy starts from both players, the match became scrappy. Williams was the first to show signs of sloppiness on serve, allowing Riske to break and move 2-1 in front.

However, she was unable to capitalise. Williams fought back to get the set back on serve at 3-3, and Riske then again failed to consolidate after another break.

Williams' experience shone through at 4-4, as she produced her best serving of the match in the ninth game, moving 5-4 ahead and applying some scoreboard pressure to Riske. In her first-ever Grand Slam quarter-final, the 29-year-old American buckled to hand Williams the set.

Per the Wimbledon Twitter account, 11th seed Williams passed yet another landmark in her storied career: 

WTA Insider noted that Williams was able to pick up more cheap points than her opponent as a result of her superior serving: 

Riske had a mountain to climb, but she had proved her mettle in coming from behind to beat world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the previous round. After a hold for the 11th seed, Riske ended a run of three lost service games of her own to level the set up at 1-1.

Christopher Clarey of the New York Times commented on how clinical Riske had been with her break-point chances: 

Freelance tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg noted that Riske has been excelling in three-set matches: 

Riske carried that momentum into the start of the decider, breaking Williams immediately. However, Williams produced some big hitting to immediately level things up.

Just when Riske was beginning to look tired—a double-fault allowed Williams to move 3-1 in front—she dug deep again, making the most of some errant shots from her opponent to get the third set back on serve. An overdue hold moved the two level to 3-3 again.

After Williams held, Riske was again under pressure on serve. At deuce, Williams telegraphed one of her volleys and then watched her opponent double-fault; from 5-3 up, there was never any doubt of Williams serving out the match, and she set up yet another semi-final date at SW19.

Williams will be back on Centre Court again on Tuesday when she teams up with two-time Wimbledon singles champion Andy Murray in the second round of the mixed doubles competition.

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