Serena Williams scraped by with a quarterfinal victory yesterday against a very-game Li Na. After being down 5-0 in the first set, Williams managed to make a come back – relying on her mental game and tenacity to wrangle the win from her Chinese opponent – 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-2. Well done, Serena!
Williams went academic in the post match presser, schooling herself and the reporters with her analysis. I’m glad I didn’t have her for pre-calculus, because she’s a tough grader:
Q. How would you grade your play in the first set?
SERENA WILLIAMS: If I was in school and I was like the professor and I had to give myself a grade, I would give myself like an 8% out of 100, which is failing. (Laughter.)
Q. And by the end, the final grade of the whole match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: The whole match is still an F. But it is what it is. It’s over with. I’m honestly glad to get through it. I feel like I wasn’t as upbeat and spirited as I normally am. I think I maybe did one or two, “come ons” during the whole match, which is not really normal for me. I give it a A for — well, a B for effort.
Serena despises on-court tutoring:
Q. Why didn’t you call (your coach) out today? Any reason?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Honestly, I hate that. I really do. I almost think it’s — I just hate it. I’m not saying I would never use it, because I have in the past. I feel like the best thing about tennis is that tennis the only sport where you’re on your own. If you need a coach, then… All my life, you know, the greats, like Martina and Steffi, you know, Monica Seles and all the greats never used that mechanism. I think it takes away from — I don’t know, I don’t love it. I don’t love it at all.
But she does use visual aids:
Q. Do you watch past matches, win or lose, to study them?
SERENA WILLIAMS: If I’m not playing well I watch the ones that I lose, which is complete torture.
Q. How does that help you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Because, believe me, I don’t ever want to watch a match that I lost, so it helps me not to lose. So maybe tonight I’ll watch a match that I lost.
And here’s my favorite part, where she gently calls out a reporter who’s trying to bluff his or her way through a question:
Q. Will you be out here watching (Venus’s quarterfinal) tonight?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely will watch the match, obviously. It’s my next opponent. So I’ll watch and then go from there.
Q. Have you played the other girl?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Have I? I played her a lot, so…
Q. Did you give Venus any tips?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Venus has played her a lot, too. We both played her plenty of times. A lot in Fed Cup, so yeah.
Q. How do you have to beat her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Benesova?
SERENA WILLIAMS: (Laughter.) You know, she’s a lefty, so you have to — and lefties can being tricky. You always have to be on your toes.
Venus took care of “the other girl” (6-1, 6-4), so the Williams sisters will be meeting in this evening’s blockbuster semifinal.
Who’s schooling whom?
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images