Sick with flu, Wil­liams gets through to win

Clearly not her­self, Serena ral­lies to beat Bac­sin­szky to ad­vance to French Open fi­nal.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS -

PARIS — At changeovers in her French Open semi­fi­nal, an ill Serena Wil­liams walked ever so slowly to the side­line, where even low­er­ing her­self to sit seemed dif­fi­cult.

With the tem­per­a­ture near­ing 85 de­grees, she pressed white tow­els filled with ice against her fore­head and neck and guz­zled wa­ter.

Early on, her play was as poor as her health. She failed to chase balls she nor­mally would. As telling as any­thing: On those oc­ca­sions when she did win points, Wil­liams mostly re­frained from her familiar fist pumps and yells of “Come on!”

But she never can be counted out, no mat­ter the cir­cum­stances. Down a set and a break Thurs­day, and clearly not her­self, Wil­liams sum­moned the re­solve to reach the fi­nal by beat­ing 23rd-seeded Timea Bac­sin­szky of Switzer­land, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.

Af­ter get­ting bro­ken to fall be­hind, 3-2, in the sec­ond set, Wil­liams won the fi­nal 10 games. She had a 12-2 edge in win­ners in the fi­nal set.

“Stunning,” said Wil­liams’ coach, Pa­trick Mouratoglou. “This is the dif­fer­ence be­tween cham­pi­ons and ev­ery­one else. There is no log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion.”

Mouratoglou said the No. 1-ranked Wil­liams has been deal­ing for sev­eral days with flu, in­clud­ing a fever and dif­fi­culty breath­ing.

Wil­liams skipped her news con­fer­ence — some­thing sis­ter Venus did af­ter los­ing last week, drawing a $3,000 fine — and is­sued a state­ment read­ing: “I have been feel­ing un­well for a few days, and … I needed to see the tour­na­ment doc­tor.”

Now one win from her third French Open and 20th ma­jor ti­tle in all, Wil­liams faces 13th-seeded Lu­cie Sa­farova of the Czech Repub­lic on Satur­day.

Next comes Wil­liams’ 24th Grand Slam fi­nal, and Sa­farova’s first. In her state­ment, Wil­liams called her­self “determined to be 100% ready.”

The left-handed Sa­farova, who elim­i­nated de­fend­ing cham­pion Maria Shara­pova in the fourth round, beat 2008 cham­pion Ana Ivanovic, 7-5, 7-5, on Thurs­day.

If she de­feats Sa­farova, Wil­liams, 33, would add to her 2002 and 2013 French Open ti­tles and col­lect a third con­sec­u­tive ma­jor cham­pi­onship.

Fran­cois Mori As­so­ci­ated Press

SERENA WIL­LIAMS reacts af­ter scor­ing a point in semi­fi­nal win; she will meet Lu­cie Sa­farova in fi­nal.

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