Australian Open 2015: Serena and Venus Williams display notorious never-say-die attitude in comeback wins to reach quarter-finals

Serena came from a set down to beat Elina Svitolina 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 while her older sister Venus beat Camila Giorgi 4-6, 7-6, 6-1

Paul Newman
Saturday 24 January 2015 12:01 GMT
Serena Williams and Venus Williams celebrate during their respective third round matches
Serena Williams and Venus Williams celebrate during their respective third round matches (Getty Images)

Serena and Venus Williams have always been two of the fiercest competitors and the sisters once again showed their never-say-die attitude here in the third round of the Australian Open. Serena looked badly out of sorts as she lost the first set to Elina Svitolina but went on to crush the Ukrainian 4-6, 6-2, 6-0. Venus meanwhile went within two points of defeat to Camila Giorgi in the second set before recovering to win 4-6, 7-6, 6-1.

It has been a curious start to the season for Serena, who seemed a long way below her best when she started her campaign in Perth at the Hopman Cup and has been in patchy form here. In the first set against Svitolina she looked flat and lacklustre, sometimes barely moving her feet to play her shots.

Svitolina, the No 26 seed and a player of great promise, took advantage, hitting big serves and driving Williams into the corners as she took control of the first set. When Williams went 0-30 down on her serve in the opening game of the second set some alarm bells might have started to ring, but from that moment everything changed.

Having held serve in that opening game, Williams went on to break Svitolina to lead 2-0. She never looked back, winning 12 of the last 14 games to book her place in the last 16. Williams now meets Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who beat her at the French Open last summer.

“My next match I'm just going to have a longer warm-up, a more intense warm-up,” Williams said afterwards. “But as long as I was able to come through today, I can always have an opportunity for tomorrow.”

Serena described her defeat to Muguruza in Paris last year as “a good loss”. She explained: “As angry as I was, it was the best loss I had the whole year last year. I had a lot of them. But that one in particular made me realise what I needed to work on.

“It opened my eyes towards a lot of things. I was like: ‘Oh, my gosh, if I don't change, then I'm going to be forever in the same position.’ It actually ended up helping me a lot.”

While Serena was fighting back on Rod Laver Arena, her sister was wrapping up victory on Margaret Court Arena. Venus had been in even more trouble than her sister. Having lost the first set she was taken to a tie-break in the second and went within two points of defeat before levelling the match and then winning the decider. She is through to the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time for four years. She now plays Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska.

“That feels fantastic especially when things happen in your life that are not in your control,” Williams said in reference to her struggles with Sjogren's syndrome, an incurable auto-immune disease that can cause joint pain and fatigue.

“But I don't want to stop now, I want to keep it going,” Venus added. “This little cat has a few tricks up her sleeve.”

With both sisters through to the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since Wimbledon in 2011, Serena said she was motivated by Venus, who is back to No 18 in the world rankings, her highest position since she was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome four years ago.

“She's been through so much with her illness, with everything that she's had to do,” Serena said. “Gosh, if she can do it, I'm perfectly healthy, I'm fine. I should be able to do it, too. It just got me so motivated.”

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