Serena Williams has surprised herself by reaching the semi-finals on her Wimbledon comeback.
The 36-year-old is playing only her fourth tournament since giving birth last year, but her 3-6 6-3 6-4 quarter-final win over unseeded Italian Camila Giorgi puts her one more victory away from a 10th final at the All England Club.
This was her toughest test yet as Giorgi outplayed her in the first set, but the seven-time champion composed herself and produced an impressive comeback to seal a 19th successive win at Wimbledon, having lifted the title in the last two years she played here, in 2015 and 2016.
It also proved beyond doubt that she is the one to beat in the women’s draw, even if she is struggles to believe it.
“I think everything right now is a little bit of a surprise,” she said.
“To be here, to be in the semi-finals, I always say I plan on it, I would like to be there, have these goals.
“But when it actually happens, it still is like, ‘Wow, this is really happening’.”
Despite getting a first-set runaround from the pocket-sized Italian, who was enjoying her best run at a grand slam, Williams stayed unusually calm, though insists it was a one-off.
“It’s weird,” she admitted. “Sometimes I feel, ‘Man, I’m in trouble’. Sometimes I feel I can fight. For whatever reason, today I was so calm.
“Even when I was down the first set, I thought, ‘Well, she’s playing great. I’m doing a lot of the right things. It is what it is’.
“Just to be clear, that was just today. I’m hoping this is like a new thing. Honestly, I highly doubt it.
“It was just the way I felt today. I never felt it was out of my hands. It’s weird. I can’t describe it. I just felt calm. I’m hoping I can channel that all the time, but one day at a time.”
Rapper Drake was part of Williams’ entourage on Centre Court, but the American was coy on when her friend Meghan Markle, the new Duchess of Sussex, might be coming to watch.
“I don’t know. Just stay tuned, right?” she said. “Stay tuned for the next episode, Serena Williams Centre Court.”
Giorgi was left to reflect on a good 10 days on the grass and has no regrets.
“I had some great matches,” she said. “This will help me a lot for the year. So I think it’s a great week. I had a great week.”