Serena Williams fired off 24 aces in her semifinal win Thursday over Victoria Azarenka, beating the previous Wimbledon record of 23 aces; set by none other than Williams herself.
"I had absolutely no idea,” Williams told reporters after her 6-3, 7-6 (6) victory, according to Wimbledon news. “It really didn't feel like I hit 24 aces at all."
We're not sure if her opponent would feel the same. "What can you do when you’re stuck watching 24 aces fly past you on the baseline," asks Courtney Nguyen in her Sports Illustrated post game analysis, adding Serena "punctuated five games alone with an unreturnable bullet."
Reporter: “How would you describe your serve as a weapon when you're at your best?”
Richard Williams, father and coach to Williams, shed light on what this championship means to his daughter.
"This is the most important tournament that Serena would ever win," Richard, told a small group of reporters after the match, ESPN reported. "Even if she could win it next year, this one here would be the most important because Serena didn't think she'd ever play tennis again.
"She told me so."
“I think she’ll win on Saturday, but to me it won’t make a difference if she wins or loses,” he said, the New York Times writes. “I’m just so happy she’s alive, because there was a time I thought my daughter was going to die."
Williams, suffering major health issues, hasn't won a major since Wimbledon 2010. As the Times notes, she missed 11 months of competition after two operations to repair a torn tendon in her right foot and then hospitalization to recover from blood clots in her lungs, and a hematoma that required emergency treatment. It was during this time that her biggest opponent had to be fought off the court: getting healthy.
But back she came last June, playing her first match in almost a year. From there she has clawed her way back up the rankings, reaching the US Open final last summer, and now, 12 months on from her comeback, she is competing in her seventh Wimbledon final.
“I'm just happy,” Williams said, according to Wimbledon news. “I'm so happy to be playing. I'm so happy to be on the court. I feel like this is where I belong. I mean, maybe I don't belong in a relationship. Maybe I don't belong somewhere else. But I know for a fact I do belong on this tennis court.”
Williams will be back on that tennis court to face Agnieszka Radwanska in Saturday's final and attempt to tie with her sister Venus by winning her fifth Wimbledon singles title.