Serena Williams was full of praise for her brave British opponent Heather Watson after beating her in an epic third-round contest, conceding that Watson deserved to win the match.
Williams eventually won across three sets after 2 hours and 15 mins of action on Centre Court.
"I have had some tough losses but that was the toughest match," the world No 1 Williams said after the match. "She played unbelievable and should have won the match. She gave her all and showed what a great player she is.
"She could get beyond the top 20, she is playing really well. She should set her sights higher. She was playing so good there was nothing I could do."
Williams, who has lifted this year's Australian and French Open titles, was forced to dig deep in front of a raucous home crowd after an error-strewn showing against the superb Watson, recovering from 3-0 down in the final set to win 6-2 4-6 7-5.
The 33-year-old, who said it was one of her toughest matches, will face her sister Venus in the last 16 -- their 26th career meeting -- as she continues her bid for a sixth Wimbledon title.
The signs looked ominous for Watson early on after being swept aside in the first set but the 23-year-old bounced back in the second, forcing Williams into a string of wayward shots as she matched up to her more powerful opponent.
Watson reeled off six games in a row with three straight service breaks to level the match and race into a 3-0 lead in the decider.
Even after a Williams rally she was twice just two points away from an unlikely win, only for the American to show the grit and guile behind many of her successes to prevail.
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