“Hadn’t Reached My Peak”: Serena Williams Reflects on Her Tough Win Over Aryna Sabalenka at Australian Open 2021

Published 02/14/2021, 2:45 AM EST
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 12, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. is interviewed after winning her third round match against Russia’s Anastasia Potapova REUTERS/Kelly Defina


Serena Williams had a tough victory over Aryna Sabalenka in the fourth round of Australian Open 2021. She reached a record-equalling 54th Grand Slam quarterfinal and is en route to a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam.

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In her post-match interview, Serena revealed how she handled big points and kept herself motivated to win.

“I felt like even games that I lost, I was so close to winning. Not all games, but probably most of those games. I just needed to play better on the big points.

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“I knew that I could. I still hadn’t reached my peak. I was like, Okay, Serena, you got this, just keep going.”

Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her fourth-round match against Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Speaking of her injury, Serena revealed that she was playing carefree for most of the match. Serena has been dealing with an Achilles injury for a while, and it was troubling her later in the 2020 season.

“I do get a lot of balls back when I need to. Yeah, I didn’t think about my Achilles. It’s so good to not think about it…it’s been a problem actually since 2018, so…I just never want that problem again. It feels really good to just play and to run, to not feel that”

Serena Williams vs Aryna Sabalenka: First Set goes Serena’s way

Sabalenka started the match better than Serena. The Belarusian didn’t allow Serena any loose balls and quickly put the American under pressure.

But Serena navigated her way through the tough games and put up her fight. At 3-3, there was the first breakpoint for Sabalenka, but she couldn’t convert it and Serena took the lead at 4-3.

The first set was evenly poised, and both the players had great rallies. When Sabalenka was trailing at 5-4, she had a great rally against Serena where the American showed great defense. Serena saw her first breakpoint and set point at 5-4. But Serena needed a second opportunity to take the first set, 6-4.

Woeful set for Serena

Simply said, the second set was woeful for Serena Williams. She was broken in the first game itself. And with Sabalenka earning a second break, Serena found herself 3-0 down in the second set in just 17 minutes. Serena got a break back in the subsequent game to open her second set 1-3.

But Serena’s first serve percentage dropped, and she failed to hold a third consecutive game and trailed 4-1. From there, Sabalenka quickly finished off the set, 6-2.

Serena Williams seals her place in record-equaling Australian Open quarterfinal

Serena massively improved in the third set. She fended off Sabalenka’s advances to take a 4-1 lead. But Sabalenka didn’t let it go and a blip from Serena saw Sabalenka level the match 4-4.

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Sabalenka was level with Serena in terms of winners and unforced errors. But trailing at 5-4, Sabalenka had a few unforced errors and Serena won the third set and match, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

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Bhavishya Mittal

944 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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