LONDON—Serena Williams survived a scare in the first round against world number 113 Margarita Gasparyan to advance to the second round, 6-4, 6-1.
The stats and score show Williams dominated the first set, but reality is the exact opposite. Gasparyan broke Williams right away and saved her own serve to go up 2-0. With each point she earned, Williams screamed louder and ferociously slammed the ball. Slowly crawling back, she broke the Russian and got back on serve.
“I think she was just hitting a lot of winners,” she told reporters.
“When the first set was over, she actually hit more winners than I did. Usually I’m really quick and I get to those shots. They were just so cleanly hit that I wasn’t able to get to them as fast as I wanted to. You know, they were just really good shots. There was nothing I could do about them.
That was the only break Gasparyan received during the whole match. But she remained poised and calm during the first part of the set. As Williams creeped into her own mind, Gasparyan did not allow the fact that she was up on the world’s best player get to her head.
“I knew she’d be a good player, but I didn’t think she’d be that good!” she exclaimed during her on court interview.
With the first set behind her, Williams took full control of the second set. With two breaks and eight winners, she dominated to win it 6-1. With the win she is one step closer to a Calendar Grand Slam. She insists she only plays match by match, but reporters cannot help but ask about her possible achievement:
Q. I know you always say you play match by match. There’s a lot at stake actually at this tournament. What is the trick for you not to keep that in your mind? It’s a human emotion to kind of think about it.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, honestly I don’t think about it. But every time I come into press, you guys talk about it. So naturally it’s definitely getting more on my mind than I want it to be, than what it has been.
So, you know, it’s definitely historic, I guess. But it’s also six matches away. It’s definitely not guaranteed. I’m just going to try to enjoy holding three right now, and enjoy that moment.
Q. So I should stop asking?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Hint, hint (smiling).
As if reporters needed more proof, Williams proved she means what she says. One reporter asked her about a possible fourth-round match against her older sister Venus. Serena appeared shocked at the revelation. She struggled to find the words and admitted the question left her speechless.
“Yeah, I mean, I didn’t know that,”she said. “Okay, so, yeah. Uhm, well, she’s been really tough. Last time we played, she actually beat me. That’s not going to be an easy match.”
She paused for a deep thought.
“You know what, I’m going to just focus on right now,” she finished. “You got me.”
Serena plays again on Wednesday against Timea Babos.